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Pacific battle

Rashneel Kumar
Monday, May 13, 2013

POSSIBILITIES are high of the Fiji Bati getting involved in Pacific Test matches following the success of one-off Tonga versus Samoa Test match in Penrith last month.

National coach Rick Stone said they were keen to partner with Pacific teams in showcasing the quality and developing rugby league in the region.

Fiji Bati which is preparing for the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) in October may also play warm-up matches against Pacific Island teams to help with its build-up.

Stone said the national side was lined-up to play a couple of matches against Papua New Guinea and possibly Tonga in a "resident's sort of status".

"We might be able to squeeze a couple of warm-up games in before the World Cup," the Newcastle Knights assistant coach told Radio New Zealand.

"Our residents players will get some footy, obviously the NRL players and the players in competitions in Australia will definitely be playing hard and won't get too many breaks before the end of the season.

"As soon as the grand final finishes, our preparations will amp right up."

Stone, who has already secured former Queensland and Australia front rower Petero Civoniceva for the RLWC, is hoping to attract more professional players to the national squad.

Veteran Civoniceva is expected to guide the team in the world cup which will be held in Europe.

He said Fiji had good depth in the forwards but needed more options at halfback, hooker and five eighth.

"Probably we will have a little bit more of an idea once the State of Origin series is finished," Stone said.

"There are some players that might be on the fringe and maybe Johnny Sutton from South Sydney could be one of those particular players.

"The Sims brothers - obviously Korbin is playing here at the Knights but also his brothers Tariq and Ashton so they're a couple of players who definitely could make a massive impact for Fiji."

Fiji is pooled in Group A with England, Australia and Ireland.

The national side under the guidance of now assistant coach, Jo Rabele, finished fourth at the 2008 RLWC.





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