LOCAL rugby league players received a lifeline after a confirmation from rugby league legend Petero Civoniceva yesterday.
The Fijian sporting icon, who is in the country on a business visit, said the benchmark set by Fijian players in NRL had lured rugby league scouts to recruit more young Fijian talent.
Civoniceva also confirmed that the participation of a local-based team in the New South Wales weekly competition was warmly received by NSW rugby league officials.
The former Kangaroos forward said the partnership would open new doors of opportunities for local players to secure lucrative contracts in Australia.
"I can confirm that a local-based team will compete in the NSW competition," said Civoniceva.
"The team will be based in Suva and will play week in, week out, in Australia for 26 weeks in a year. They will play 13 games in Suva and 13 games in Australia.
"The reason we have selected NSW ahead of Queensland was because there is a direct flight from Suva to Sydney every week.
"The NSW competitions are feeder to top teams such as the Sydney Roosters and South Sydney Rabbitohs.
"The NSW rugby league officials are excited with the news."
Civoniceva said he had met the Fiji National Rugby League and some local corporate bodies on the sponsorship and other operational matters.
"We will have a squad of 30 players and should any from these players get recruited by any NRL clubs, then we will select other outstanding players in the local competition," he said.
"I have talked with some sponsors and surely this initiative is confirmed for 2016.
"So far it's been amazing and I urge local players to work hard as they hardly get this kind of opportunity."
The former Fiji Bati skipper said the ultimate goal was to assemble the best Fiji Bati team for international games.
He said Fijian players had stamped their mark in NRL as they played among the elite in Australia.
Players such as Sisa Waqa, Akuila Uate, Marika Koroibete, Jason Bukuya and Semi Radradra are some of the top Fijian players in this year's competition.
Civoniceva was helping the Nadroga rugby league under-20 players at training yesterday.