IT will be a clash of regional neighbours when the Trans Pacific Touch Tournament kicks off today at Prince Charles Park, Nadi.
Fiji, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia are pitting 36 teams in the three-day competition.
Event organiser Tomasi Tiko said Fiji was prepared to play host and all the necessary preparations and referees had been sorted.
"We even have a referee from Niue here with us," he said.
Tiko said while competitive interest in the sport was confined mainly to clubs in Suva the plan was to encourage other divisions to participate as well.
"For many, touch is considered just a pasttime and many are not competitively involved with the sport.
"We are hoping to change that and expand the game competitively to the western and northern parts of Fiji.
"The interest in this sport is growing and we have so many new players who will represent the country for the first time."
An added challenge for the sport was "working with the limited budget" but Tiko said he was grateful the tournament was funded by Fiji National Sports Commission.
Regional giants Australia have arrived with nine teams and coach Mark Beard said the heat would be a trying factor during the three days.
"We are looking forward to it though, because we want to expose our younger players to the more experienced sides," he said.
Similarly, Samoa coach Pauli Williams said even though they were the underdogs, they were looking forward to giving a good challenge to the other teams.