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Bati set for six-nation series

Sunday, December 23, 2007

INTERNATIONAL Rugby League Federation chairman Colin Love has revealed plans to include the Bati in an extended six nations rugby league series.

The world governing body also hopes to develop the game to a higher level with more financial assistance in the pipeline.

The series, earmarked for the future, will include rugby league powerhouses Australia, England and New Zealand, France and the top South Pacific nation.

Fiji will play against Tonga and Samoa with winner joining the series.

Love, who is also the chairman of the Australia Rugby League and 2008 Rugby League World Cup director, was the chief guest at the Fiji National Rugby League awards night on Friday.

Love, who acquired his law degree at Sydney University after matriculating from Sydney Boys High, began his association with rugby league when he was involved with contract negotiations for players in the late 1970s.

He was retained as the league's solicitor soon afterwards; Love was an active participant as a solicitor for the ARL and Kerry Packer during the Super League war.

Love was elected chairman of the ARL in 1999.

In January this year, Love received an Order of Australia medal for his contribution to both the sport of rugby league and to sports law.

"Next year we have the World Cup and in 2009, there will either a Quad-Nations involving Australia, New Zealand, England and France," Love said.

"I'm looking to the future where there might come a time where we have a six nations tournament with the top Pacific nation qualifying.

"We've been conducting a Tri-Nations tournament over the past few years and my vision is to see that developed into possibly a six nations tournament in the not to distant future.

"We're looking at involving the South Pacific nations as well so it will be good to see Fiji participating in that tournament in years to come."

Love said he was happy with the progress shown by the FNRL in developing the sport and the IRLF was ready to assist financially.

"The World Cup will leave great legacies of the game. There will be more money for the development of the game in Fiji and see the game grow here," he said.

"We would like to see you at the World Cup, but if you can't then I'm very pleased to announce that Mai TV will be broadcasting in Fiji all of Fiji's matches live."

Love said there was huge potential for the sport in Fiji, citing Petero Civoniceva and Lote Tuqiri as testaments of the abundance of talent.

"I see a huge future for our game here. I think the performance of Fiji to qualify for the world cup tournament just recently is an indication that there is so much talent for local players to play abroad.

"Once the world cup is completed, there will be a pot of revenue generated which will be used to help develop the game in the developing nations such as Fiji.

"We have clubs that have talent scouts over here to make recommendations on players. That's been happening and will continue to happen and I think the opportunities will be greater in the future."

He thanked the FNRL officials for putting every effort to see the sport develop to new heights in the country.

"The game of rugby league is progressing well in Fiji that we're pleased with the development under the leadership of Peni Musunamasi.

"It's a wonderful achievement for Fiji to qualify for the world cup in Australia next year.

"Our game is celebrating its centenary next year and we have a whole series of events planned throughout the year culminating with the world cup in October-November."

The Bati have been placed in a relatively easy pool with France and Scotland.

Fiji's first game is against France on October 31 with the second match against Scotland on November 5.

There will be 10 teams in total, with Pool One containing four teams and the other two pools containing three.

The top three teams from Pool One the "super pool" which includes Australia, New Zealand, England, Papua New Guinea will go through to the semi-finals, while the other two pool winners play off to join them.

Love said the Bati would bring a lot of entertainment to the world cup after watching the Pacific qualifiers. "The World Cup will be competed for by 10 nations and it will be played in 12 venues in Sydney.

"It will be such an exciting time and we're delighted that Fiji can be part of the celebrations.

"I actually saw the qualifying tournaments that Fiji took part in to get through to the final draw of the world cup and the standard they played was something to be seen.

"During the World Cup, Fiji will be based in Wollongong and much of the community there is looking forward to hosting the team.

"There will be plenty of support I can assure you."

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