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Thread: Wallabies great backs Pasifika team

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    Wallabies great backs Pasifika team

    Toutai Kefu backs Pasifika team for Sydney

    By Wayne Smith. Senior Sport Writer
    7:53PM October 6, 2020

    Tonga’s Rugby World Cup coach, the legendary Wallabies number eight Toutai Kefu, believes basing a Pacific Islands team in western Sydney as part of a trans-Tasman competition would provide a massive boost for the game, not only in Polynesia but in Australia as well.

    New Zealand Rugby’s rejection of a Pasifika team in next year’s Super Rugby Aotearoa has strained its relations with the *Islanders to breaking point but at the same time provides Australia with a massive opportunity to ensure it becomes the home away from home for islander players.

    Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan indicated his organisation was keen to “do something with a team from the Islands” either in Super Rugby AU or a trans-Tasman series.

    He said he had not held formal talks with the Pasifika consortium because he had always expected NZ would welcome them into its competition.

    Kefu, who won a World Cup for the Wallabies in 1999, believes the moment has finally arrived to set up an Islander base in Australia.

    “I think for novelty value, to have another team in Australia would be fantastic,” Kefu told The Australian. “The obvious choice would be something around a Pacific Islands team, whether it’s a single nation or a combination of three teams. It would be a fantastic initiative, especially with so many Pacific Islanders involved in rugby in Australia.

    “The main issue would be the financial side of things, whether it’s affordable, who’s going to pay for it and obviously its sustainability.”

    World Rugby needs to be tapped immediately. It had bankrolled the Fiji Drua side in Australia’s National Rugby Championship but with the demise of that competition — won by the Drua in 2018 in their initial year — it could now expand upon its support to include all of the Island nations. There are, as well, the private backers who had intended to help finance the team in NZ.

    There is no question that a Pasifika team would be harder to co-ordinate in Australia than a single nation from the South Pacific, like the Drua, but Kefu believes the Islands that missed out would be devastated by the decision. None more so than Tonga.

    “We would be very disappointed,” he said. “Fiji have progressed far beyond what we have and half of that is due to our own incompetence. But if they did put together a Drua Super Rugby team, we would probably fall further behind.

    “In our little country, league has pretty much taken over but rugby is still in the hearts of our people and we just need something to get united behind and ignite that passion. They still love rugby in Tonga and that is still first and foremost the team we all love.”

    Wallabies five-eighth Matt Toomua, born in Melbourne to a Samoan father and an NZ mother, said while establishing an Islander team in Australia would be difficult, the desire of players to have a Pasifika team was “huge”.

    “We have such a large showing of Islander players,” Toomua said.

    “The logistics around it are quite tough. We like to say the Pacific Islands team as though it’s a state but there is a lot of water that separates the Islands, so getting them in a centralised location is quite tough.

    “From a players’ point of view, we would absolutely love it.

    “I think it would bring a new flavour to the game. You’ve seen the success of the Drua in NRC. You are seeing more Fijian guys in the NRL, so I think it would be smart strategically to get those guys playing in our competitions because we could probably poach a few as well.”

    While western Sydney has been nominated by McLennan as the likely base for an Islander club, Kefu notes that Brisbane and Melbourne both have significant Islander populations. Townsville also ticked a number of boxes — including a climate that Islander players would prefer — but he questioned whether it had the support base to sustain a Pasifika team.

    The fear is that a Pasifika team might cannibalise the existing Australian side but, unless there is a change in World Rugby regulations, any Wallabies based at those franchises are already locked in to play for Australia.

    Small wonder that Kefu is arguing for a State of Origin-style tournament involving Australia, NZ, Tonga, Fiji and Western Samoa, where all players would represent their country of birth or, indeed, their parents’ homeland.

    Wayne Smith
    Senior Sport Writer

    https://www.theaustralian.com.au/spo...0383dcd6b3955d

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    Just to add new content.

    It is an nteresting article but I think a Latui/Drua team based in Fiji probably has a better chance than Toutai's option. That is, unless a more hefty Pacific benefactor comes forward. RA can't even fund RA teams.

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    I remember 2 years ago Twiggy trying to get a GRR side like this going in Western Sydney, but it was stamped on by the NSWRU.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JSJ View Post
    I remember 2 years ago Twiggy trying to get a GRR side like this going in Western Sydney, but it was stamped on by the NSWRU.
    I remember it only too well. The team would have had another financial backer as well plus Darren Coleman as coach.

    The cravenly bent NSWRU killed that rugby development, so the connections bought two pro teams in the US instead, with coach and players being exported with him.

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    Champion andrewg's Avatar
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    Great idea Kefu....are you providing the $$s?

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    Wayne Smith not managing even basic fact checking:
    World Rugby needs to be tapped immediately. It had bankrolled the Fiji Drua side in Australia’s National Rugby Championship but with the demise of that competition — won by the Drua in 2018 in their initial year
    Drua entered the NRC in 2017, not 2018. Mind you, I wouldn't expect anything else from Smith.

    I wonder if this ESRU puff piece is to put any pressure on Twiggy to say: "Hey, we've got a potential 5th team - we don't need you for SRAu, so you can go to NZ or pay us handsomely for playing in our comp." Of course it's utter rubbish, but then so is 90% of what comes out of Moore Park.

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    I doubt it TBH. For mine it is likely a question of either four teams or six i.e two games a weekend or three. Any competition wouldn't really be long enough to require byes, and in the current environment no-one will be paying each weekend for a team to not play.

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