Fiji Time: 10:49 PM on Wednesday 21 March

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In the big league

Elenoa Baselala in Brisbane, Australia
Saturday, November 25, 2017

VODAFONE Fiji Bati coach Mick Potter believes rugby league could be more popular than rugby union in the future.

However, for that to happen, a Fijian side must be in a competition such as the New South Wales Cup in Australia.

"I think it would be great to see a Fijian team in the NSW Cup, it will be a great pathway, it is a more fluid pathway for a lot of players," Potter said.

"And we will see more Fijians coming in because they have that pathway, it will be phenomenal for rugby league.

"I think they will surpass union eventually because they are great athletes, they love to play, they love to get their hands on the ball, they love tackling, they love the game for how quick it is."

Former Fiji Bati captain Petero Civoniceva who has been trying to get a Fijian side into the competition for the past three years said the only requirement left was the endorsement of the Fiji National Rugby League.

He has the endorsement of the NRL, NSWRL, Fiji Sports Council and the Minister for Industry and Trade and Tourism, Faiyaz Koya.

If FNRL endorses the venture, a Fijian side will be competing in the NSW Cup, the second best rugby league competition in Australia by 2019.

Following the PNG Hunters model, the Fijian team will have 30 full-time contracted players from March to September.

They will live in a professional training facility, which will also be a live-in camp for the playing group, with accommodation, food all included as part of the playing contract. The staff will consist of a full-time head coach, strength and conditioning coach, trainers, physiotherapists.

Civoniceva said Fiji would have 13 home and 13 away games, thus offering a number of economic opportunities for the country.

Arguably the most well-known rugby player in the world and Fiji Bati member, Jarryd Hayne said the development of rugby league in the country would grow leaps and bounds through the NSW Cup competition. He said one of the weaknesses he had found in the locally-based players were their lack of basic knowledge of the game.

Hayne said there was so much talent in Fiji that "just gets washed away." With a Fijian team in the competition, most local players would be just a step away from getting NRL contracts.

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