24 tackles and plenty of good runs!
Should tier-two countries be donated money in order to develop their rugby league?
Tier-two countries in rugby league will have major improvements and will perform better if the NRL gave them money in order to develop their facilities to become as good or even better than the top-tier countries such as Australia and New Zealand.
Growing up as a young Pacific Islander, you never really saw the Pacific Islands having games against Australia, New Zealand or England.
The only matches you saw the Pacific Island teams play were against other Pacific Island teams. The match-ups were often Tonga vs Samoa or Fiji vs Papua New Guinea.
They didn’t want to put tier-two countries – basically every Pacific Island team – against tier-one countries because they believed it was a waste of time organising an event because the tier-one countries would have flogged the tier-two teams.
Most of the tier-one countries had players whose background was a Pacific Islander one but they didn’t play for their heritage because the money was in the tier-one nations not in the tier two.
Many players representing New Zealand and Australia were often Tongan, Fijian and Samoan but they played for the better team because they got paid higher, whilst tier-two teams often got paid as little as $100 a day.
In the 2017 Rugby League World Cup this had all changed.
Two of the NRL’s best players, Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita, both decided to represent their heritage, which was Tonga.
This was a controversial moment in the sport of rugby league. Two of the best players playing for pride instead of money.
This then led to other players coming to play for Tonga and they had quite the team to beat.
Andrew and Jason had already played for Tonga, but only at the rookie stages of their NRL careers. The pair were not at their peak but when they made the decision to return they sure were at the top of their game.
With these rugby league stars coming to play for Tonga, it brought back a spark into the World Cup where everyone was really excited to see Tonga go against New Zealand who were a tier-one country.
There was massive hype going into this game, and it sure did live up to it.
New Zealand opened the game with a try and Tonga tried desperately to hit back. The crowd was full of Tongan supporters dressed in red and singing Tongan hymns, which lifted the players in some stages of the game.
New Zealand took the lead going into half-time but nobody had given up on Tonga.
Tonga produced a late comeback to tie up the game, then bagged an intercept try to take the lead. After another Tongan try, it looked like Tonga was going to win and they did.
It was a historic moment. Not only did a tier-two country beat a tier-one country for the first time, but it was also the first time Tonga had beaten New Zealand.
This is a clear example that if the tier-two countries were given money to develop their facilities – and also to give their players a pay rise – you will see more exciting games and also will witness a true game of rugby league at its finest.
Another tier-two country who beat a tier-two country was Fiji, when they had a close win over the New Zealand team.
The win came with a lot of controversy.
A lot of people were saying that tier-two countries are on the rise and that they should look into investing more money in them, so they can select and retain the players they want.
Tier-two countries should be donated money in order to develop their rugby league and bring more of an X-factor to the international arena. Nations like Tonga make a huge impact on the game.
We have seen the peak of what can happen if they do take these tier-two nations seriously, and it would be amazing to see the tier-two countries use money to develop their facilities and players.