Story by Scott Bailey AAP

The NSW Rugby League has set their sights on fielding teams from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga in their main competition as part of the game's push into the Pacific.

The code's Pacific expansion remains a key talking point with Papua New Guinea firming to enter the NRL from as early as 2026 or 2027.

Fiji will take another step towards following PNG's lead this year when the Kaiviti Silktails play in the NSWRL's U21 Jersey Flegg for the first time.

The plan remains for the Fiji-based Silktails to field a team in the NSW Cup by 2027 at the latest, after initially joining the third-tier Ron Massey competition in 2020.

That would theoretically put the nation on the same path as PNG, who joined the Queensland Cup in 2014 before becoming a legitimate expansion option for the NRL.
Beyond that, NSW Rugby League chief executive David Trodden sees future growth through Samoa and Tonga, who have each become international heavyweights.

"The Pacific strategy, I think, doesn't necessarily mean that you have to have a team from PNG, a team from Fiji, a team from Samoa in the NRL," Trodden said.

"The strategy would have worked if you have teams in the second-tier (state) competitions as well.

"PNG in the NRL competition looks like it's a likely proposition.

"But I can see a point in the not-too distant future where we have a team from Samoa, a team from Fiji, and obviously teams from New Zealand as well."

Rugby league's Pacific growth strategy remains a combination of work between the NRL, states and Department of Foreign Affairs, who provide financial assistance.

Trodden said he would be open to having teams from each of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga playing in the NSW Cup after entering via Ron Massey and Jersey Flegg.

"We're whole-of-game. We're the NSW Rugby League and obviously the NSW is our primary focus," Trodden said.

"But if we can do things that assist the whole of the game, we're always up for that. We've had a New Zealand side since the early 2000s.

"Souths and Norths might have a view on whether Samoa and Tonga would work in the grand final of the NSW Cup. But that's an exciting problem."

Trodden's comments come in a busy week for NSWRL.

After launching their seasons on Thursday, Cronulla CEO Dino Mezzatesta will attempt to be voted onto the state's board during Friday's AGM.

It was a disagreement over Mezzatesta's eligibility in 2022 that prompted the likes of Nick Politis and George Peponis to quit in support of the Sharks boss, and led to a Supreme Court battle between the state body and NRL.

The NSWRL is back in court against the ARL Commission again on Friday, teaming up with the Queensland Rugby League in a dispute over funding.

Trodden is hopeful the states and head office can eventually agree to long-term funding arrangements, rather than year-by-year applications.

"We would love to see that and I think the ARLC have suggested that they would like to see that as well," he said.