Pacific development strategy welcomed by RLIF

The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has reacted positively to the news that the NRL is adopting a more intensive approach to rugby league development in the Pacific.

The NRL launched a strategy this week which will focus on holistic development of the game in the Pacific Island nations.

The initiaitive will cover business, community, education and health programmes focused on rugby league, as well as on developing local talent.

“The interest in our game in Samoa is incredible, especially now that they have qualified for the Four Nations tournament at the end of the year,” said NRL chief executive David Smith.

“And, with the next World Cup in 2017, there is no reason one of the Pacific nations cannot make the finals of our biggest international event.

“We saw Mal Meninga coaching the Papua New Guinea Kumuls for the last World Cup and we have seen the PNG Hunters perform incredibly well in the Queensland Cup.

“So the game is on the rise in the Pacific and the timing is perfect to build our relationships on and off the field.”

Around 37 per cent of current NRL players have ties to Pacific Islands, and stars such as Sonny Bill Williams and Jarryd Hayne will be playing an active part in the initiative.

RLIF chairman Nigel Wood believes that the plans are excellent, and will work well when it comes to the game developing ever stronger structures in a vital region.

“The publication of the NRL’s Pacific Strategy is a welcome and progressive development which will undoubtedly strengthen the countries in the region,” he said.

“The nations have a long and proud tradition, as was evidenced in last year’s Rugby League World Cup when they lit up every venue they played at, and we will see again with Samoa’s participation in this autumn’s Four Nations tournament.

“International Rugby League has never been in a stronger position. More nations are playing the sport than ever before on the back of a terrific World Cup, and the recent success of the Commonwealth Nines.

“There has rarely been such a positive feel about our geographical spread and international footprint and this latest programme will also be a welcome boost for the legions of fans in the Pacific.”

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