Pacific rugby plan

My ball ... Temo Mayanavanua wins this line-out during the World Rugby Pacific Islands combined team training session in Suva yesterday. Picture: JOVESA NAISUA

FIJI, Tonga and Samoa rugby will have the opportunity to get their young players exposed to international professional clubs.

The project headed by World Rugby general manager high performance Peter Horne, Pacific Rugby Player’s chief executive officer Aayden Clarke and Scott Wisemantle.

Horne said this was a new partnership between Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Pacific Island Players Association.

“This is to provide more opportunities to Pacific Island players,” he said.

“The Pacific Island combined team is part of a broader set strategy that has come at the back of the Pacific Island working group from World Rugby in trying to improve some of the challenges that we face in the Pacific with our emerging player talent.

“This project is in partnership with our Pacific Island team to identify the best next talent in the region and provide them an opportunity to move to semi-professional competition within our region close to home.”

He said a lot of players head overseas and were away from home but with the project they would identify the best talent and recruit them to a club closer to home and develop them in a professional way to have the opportunity to be included in their national team and hopefully Rugby World Cup. Scott Wise, who is spearheading the program said they would see the skills of individual players and monitor them in games like counter attack.

“We will see what the player has and then canvas their skills and teams from New Zealand and Australia can look at that skills set and take them in for semi-professional programs.”

The best 30 players from the three Pacific countries were chosen during the World Rugby Pacific Challenge. These players will be in camp for one-week before the best players will be chosen for Super Rugby clubs, ITM, Mitre 10 and clubs in the Australia National Rugby Championship.