Following the addition of the Dolphins as the NRL's 17th license, attention has quickly turned to where the league can look next for further expansion.
Perth or a second side in New Zealand have been flagged as obvious choices for the NRL to consider for an 18th club, with an even number of sides needed to steady fixturing and further boost broadcast deals.
With discussions surrounding another NRL side in mind, league great Matty Johns has stated a club based from the Pacific Islands would be an ideal fit for the competition and would further aid the development from countries such as Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea.
“They’re talking about an 18th team,” he said.
“Obviously, they can’t rush into it, but you can’t stay at 17 teams, 18 is the number.
“I think in some way, shape or form it (the 18th team) should be a Pacific nation side.
“It allows you to shore up that crucial area, it’s one of the heartlands of the game now as far as recruitment is concerned.
“The nation that has got miles of money as far as oil money is concerned is Papua New Guinea. There’s been talk that they’ll build a great stadium.
“The logistical issue would be that they’ve got health issues in the country, but I’ll say this, how many countries in the world could you say that rugby league has turned the country around? It totally swung everything.”
Johns' theory would follow and potentially compete with incoming Super Rugby outfit Moana Pasifika, who look to utilise the talents from Pacific Island nations as their identity.
Founded last year by New Zealand Rugby and permitted a license for the 2022 Super Rugby season, Moana Pasifika featured against the Māori All Blacks in their opening showcase performance in 2020 with a squad including players from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and the Cook Islands.