Bring on a Kangaroo tour of the Pacific Islands

Riley Pettigrew Roar Guru

By Riley Pettigrew, Riley Pettigrew is a Roar Guru & Live Blogger

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    The Baskerville Shield has already been pencilled in for 2018 but the international calendar remains rather blank for tier one and two nations, opening up the possibility for some exciting fixtures.

    New Zealand and England won’t be coming up against the Australians in 2018 but that doesn’t mean we should take a year off. Why don’t we embrace the Pacific Islands and play alongside an expanded five-team Pacific Series?

    In the last couple of years, the Pacific nations have shown their class in the annual Pacific Tests, highlighting the rivalry between the Islands and the depth of talent in the rugby league world. Such is the quality that in 2014 Samoa gave New Zealand a big fright, nearly toppling the Kiwis in Whangarei.

    The rugby league world is set to be treated to even more quality fixtures featuring the Pacific nations at this year’s World Cup, and the Kangaroos should be looking to get involved.

    Australia have shown a massive commitment to helping to grow the game in the Pacific Islands by taking part in a tri-series alongside Fiji and Papua New Guinea in Suva, to be played over 120 minutes in preparation for the Rugby League World Cup.

    They have every opportunity to embrace this further by playing Pacific opposition alongside a five-team Pacific series featuring the Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga.

    The Kangaroos should start off their 2018 campaign in New Zealand, taking on the Kiwis in the annual Trans-Tasman Tests before the All Golds set off for the Baskerville Shield.

    Following this, the Australians can have a week off to recoup while round one of the Pacific Cup kicks off with matches being played across the Pacific Islands at venues such as Apia Park (Apia), Lloyd Robson Oval (Port Moresby), Kalabond Oval (Kokopo), National Stadium (Suva) and Teufaiva Sport Stadium (Nuku’alofa).

    This will give the people of the Pacific region the opportunity to see their rugby league heroes on home turf and bring immense pride to the players participating.

    Allow Australia to host matches against Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga in Australian cities such as Brisbane, Canberra and Newcastle while taking on Fiji in Suva. The upcoming warm-up match proves the facilities in Suva are of a high enough standard to host the world No.1 nation.

    Players aren’t going to protest and turn down the opportunity to represent their country on a global stage because of ‘player burnout’ as is often feared. Why take a year off when we can feature in an exciting series and help foster the game in the Pacific Islands.

    The Kangaroos are the means to promote rugby league throughout our region of influence. The green and gold is a brand which is easily identifiable and can help to grow the greatest game of all.

    While a battle between the Pacific Islands takes place in the Southern hemisphere, European nations not competing in the Emerging Nations World Championship must embrace the opportunity to Test themselves against each other.

    Why don’t France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales take part in a Test series while Italy, Serbia, Spain and Russia lock horns?

    Build it and they will come.

    Rugby league is not going to prosper if we continue to sit idle. We have a duty to spread our game around the world and national teams must be granted every possible opportunity to showcase themselves on a global stage.

    Here is a proposed schedule.

    Week 1
    New Zealand versus Australia (AMI Stadium, Christchurch)
    Week 2
    England versus France (DW Stadium, Wigan)
    Samoa versus Tonga (Apia Park, Apia)
    Papua New Guinea versus Fiji (Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby)
    Week 3
    Australia versus Samoa (Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane)
    Fiji versus Tonga (ANZ National Stadium, Suva)
    Papua New Guinea versus Cook Islands (Kalabond Oval, Kokopo)
    France versus New Zealand (Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan)
    Wales versus England (Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff)
    Ireland versus Italy (Carlisle Grounds, Bray)
    Scotland versus Serbia (Derwent Park, Workington)
    Week 4
    Australia versus Tonga (McDonald Jones Stadium, Newcastle)
    Fiji versus Cook Islands (ANZ National Stadium, Suva)
    Papua New Guinea versus Samoa (Lloyd Robson Oval, Port Moresby)
    England versus New Zealand (Ricoh Arena, Coventry)
    Ireland versus Scotland, France versus Wales, Italy versus Spain, Serbia versus Russia
    Week 5
    Australia versus Papua New Guinea (GIO Stadium, Canberra)
    Samoa versus Fiji (Apia Park, Apia)
    Tonga versus Cook Islands (Teufaiva Sport Stadium, Nuku’alofa)
    England versus New Zealand (Old Trafford, Manchester)
    Wales versus Ireland, France versus Scotland, Italy versus Serbia, Spain versus Russia
    Week 6
    Fiji versus Australia (ANZ National Stadium, Suva)
    Tonga versus Papua New Guinea (Teufaiva Sport Stadium, Nuku’alofa)
    Samoa versus Cook Islands (Apia Park, Apia)
    England versus New Zealand (London Stadium, London)
    Scotland versus Wales, France versus Ireland, Spain versus Serbia, Italy versus Russia

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    The Crowd Says (26)

    • June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am
      Steve said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      $

      Comment from The Roar’s iPhone app.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 9:50am
      Sleiman Azizi said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:50am | ! Report

      The Kangaroos being marketed as ambassadors for rugby league in the same manner as the All Blacks for union and the Harlem Globetrotters for basketball is a great idea.

      Rugby league is a great ‘product’ and deserves to be lead by people who aren’t afraid of stepping out of the village precinct.

      Nice work (again) Riley.

      • June 20th 2017 @ 11:25am
        mikeT said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:25am | ! Report

        Except the all blacks and Harlem globe trotters are global brands and in a completely different league to the kangaroos.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 9:06pm
          Sleiman Azizi said | June 20th 2017 @ 9:06pm | ! Report

          Which has what to do with the idea of using a top team as ambassadors for their sport?

          • June 20th 2017 @ 11:35pm
            Mack said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:35pm | ! Report

            because people will show up to watch those teams.

            • Roar Guru

              June 21st 2017 @ 9:21am
              Sleiman Azizi said | June 21st 2017 @ 9:21am | ! Report

              So why does the All Blacks and the Globetrotters being in a different league to the Kangaroos and drawing big crowds etc etc mean the Kangaroos shouldn’t aim for something similar?

        • June 21st 2017 @ 9:57am
          BrainsTrust said | June 21st 2017 @ 9:57am | ! Report

          All Blacks are the cheapskates of the Pacific.
          Their visit to Samoa left them with a 1 million dollar debt.
          At least other teams can pay their way to visit the Pacific islands.
          The Pacific islands might not have money but they are the only places apart from New Zealand where rugby is the most popular sport, and yet they are not treated as equals in the IRB.
          The recent super rugby match was again another farce paid for by Samoan tourism with high ticket prices.
          Rugby league tour of the PAcific islands if funded by the NRL with cheap or free tickets instead of handouts and overpriced tickets would trump the All Blacks pathetic attempts at drawing money out of the region any day of the week,

          • June 21st 2017 @ 3:07pm
            Rugby365 said | June 21st 2017 @ 3:07pm | ! Report

            You can blame the greedy Samoan PM for those over priced tickets. Crusaders and chiefs played a few weeks earlier and drew a sold out crowd because they were well priced tickets.

            As for the NRL funding this? Lol you are dreaming. They are having issue trying to pay the NRL teams. Why would they fund something that will have 0 return. The also said Australia will no be playing any games in 2018 and are even stopping the NRL 9s too.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:52pm
        Riley Pettigrew said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

        Thanks Guv, the Kangaroos need to be treated as a global brand for the betterment of the international game. Build it and they will come. Rugby league is going to get nowhere if Tier 1 nations continue to play against Tier 1 nations, Tier 2 play against Tier 2, etc.

    • Roar Guru

      June 20th 2017 @ 11:26am
      Epiquin said | June 20th 2017 @ 11:26am | ! Report

      I’d like to see them take on USA.

      Also, a bit off topic, but it would be cool to see a one-off game between the winners of the NRL State Championship match and the Wolfpack at the end of the year.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 12:49pm
        Riley Pettigrew said | June 20th 2017 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

        That’d be great to see Epiquin, it’s another alternative to the P.I. tour I’d like to see happen. Let’s hope the plan for Souths and Parramatta to open the season in the US gets off the ground.

        A Kangaroos tour of USA (and Canada) is a must. If I was to choose, I’d recommend Kangaroos tour P.I. in 2018 and Kiwis tour USA in 2019. Something in which MSI and the USARL should be exploring is an annual St Patrick’s Test against Ireland. Rotate between Dublin and Boston/Philadelphia. It’s something the American public would really get behind.

        As for the Wolfpack idea, I love it. It’s very similar to an idea Steve Mascord mentioned a couple of weeks ago in his Discord column. The World Club Series is restructured: England vs Australia, France vs New Zealand, PNG vs Canada. Who knows, in the coming years Fiji and USA could join with respective teams from those countries set to join NSWRL and RFL.

        • Roar Guru

          June 20th 2017 @ 2:18pm
          Epiquin said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:18pm | ! Report

          I like your St Patrick’s day idea. Could really take off!

          In regards to opening the season in the US, I’d do it in Hawaii. They are positively starved for pro sport and have a good size stadium sitting there like a white elephant. They turn up in the tens of thousands for high school football because they don’t get much else and the rugby/league that’s been played there recently has had quite a bit of buzz. They’ve also got a big Polynesian population to tap into.

          Not to mention their favourable timezone. An 8pm kickoff there is a 4pm kick off here – meaning their Monday Night Football is our Sunday match of the day.

          • Roar Guru

            June 20th 2017 @ 5:33pm
            Riley Pettigrew said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

            Honolulu is a no-brainer. It is the halfway house between the Pacific Islands and United States. If we already had a second team in Brisbane and New Zealand, as well as a team in Perth, Honolulu would be next on the agenda.

            Aloha Stadium is a great ground. It was a shame Broncos vs Panthers was cancelled.

            From all accounts the Samoa vs Tonga Residents matches in recent years have been well received.

            Here’s hoping the NRL don’t let their narrow-mindedness get in the way of growing the game (again).

    • June 20th 2017 @ 2:37pm
      kk said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

      Good Gear Riley.

      We have missed your original thinking.

      Going to Easts v Sharks @ CCS in 1st July?

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 2:48pm
        Riley Pettigrew said | June 20th 2017 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

        Thanks MAX, I’ll be there. Should be a cracker of a match.

        Looks like the Central Coast Council are starting to get their act together and attract more big events to Central Coast Stadium now that Lionel’s touring. We could be getting as many as 3-4 games in 2018.

        • June 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm
          kk said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:07pm | ! Report

          Will be in Bay 4 back row corner if you are passing.

    • June 20th 2017 @ 5:13pm
      Fred said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:13pm | ! Report

      France should tour the Pacific. They could call it the nuclear tests (sorry bad joke).

      But seriously, more tests for France is a must. France v Canada in Quebec could work well.

      • Roar Guru

        June 20th 2017 @ 5:30pm
        Riley Pettigrew said | June 20th 2017 @ 5:30pm | ! Report

        Completely agreed Fred, more international rugby league needed across the board against a variety of opponents.

        There are some countries such as Tonga who have only played 5 tests in the 4 years since the last World Cup. That is absolutely abysmal. The game isn’t grow if we don’t play a regular brand of international football.

        I’d certainly like to see France and Canada look horns in Montreal. What a fixture that would be!

    • June 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm
      Gurudoright said | June 20th 2017 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

      If nothing else, the NRL or ARL should think about a development squad of players who are yet to play at Origin or a Prime Ministers XIII that could tour the South Pacific

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