As the NRL ponders expanding into a 20-team competition, a large jump from the 17 current outfits, Pacific Islanders are currently watching on after a potential Pasifika team was floated.
The NRL's 17th team, the Dolphins, are off to a flying start in the competition, starting 2-0 and putting bums on seats in the process, and lit a fire in the eyes of the game's officials as they look to incorporate another three teams.
While the usual landing spots have been touted; a Perth franchise, a vacancy in Adelaide, a second New Zealand outfit, the Central Coast, and of course, when will they bring back the Bears?
However one concept has caught the ears of fans and players alike, a Pacific Islander side based out of Cairns, which would play home games in Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, and also incorporate Papua New Guinea.
Junior Paulo hasn't missed a beat, and despite being contracted at the Eels until 2027, the mooted-side's inclusion could change things for the Samoan captain.
“If the opportunity presents itself, and it makes sense, I would definitely be happy to (play for the Pasifika team),” Paulo told The Daily Telegraph.
“We've seen in Super Rugby with the Moana Pasifika team, everyone wants to represent them.
“A Pasifika team is something we have been building towards in rugby league especially on the back of successful World Cup campaigns, and over the past few years just seeing guys being proud to represent their heritage.”
Currently making up nearly 45% of the NRL, Pacific Islands representation has gone forward leaps and bounds in recent seasons, most notably at last year's World Cup, where nine players from the 2022 State of Origin series played for a nation other than Australia.
“I think so, yeah players (from Pasifika backgrounds) would put their hands up,” Penisini said.
“As we've seen so far from the Dolphins, their expansion into the NRL has been successful. If they want to add another team then it looks like it could work.
“If that team is a Pacific Island then that would be really special.”