Several NRL teams will play official trial fixtures in Pacific nations over the next three years, after an announcement was made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday morning.
Players and coaches of the teams involved will be in the country for a few days before each match, in a bid to not only prepare for the contest, but to participate in NRL and DFAT (Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade) programs to promote equality, health and wellbeing among other things.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Marise Payne spoke about the initiative, and said it’s important to strengthen the ties between both nations.
“These announcements are part of the Australian Government’s commitment to the Australia-Pacific Sports Linkages Program which will deliver $40 million in grants over five years to support the development of sport throughout the Pacific,” Payne said during the announcement.
“Sport has been a longstanding element of our engagement in the Pacific. This new program recognises the role and reach of sport as a major connection between Pacific and Australian people and communities.”
Jaymes Boland-Rudder, the NRL’s Head of GOvernment and Community Relations, thanked the PM and DFAT for the announcement, and reiterated once again how important it is for the people of the Pacific nations.
“We thank the Prime Minister, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for generously supporting and raising the profile of the lasting impact Rugby League is making for women, children and men throughout the Pacific,” Boland-Rudder said.
“The NRL trial matches, alongside the assistance provided towards funding the proposed Fijian-based team in the NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership, will have a profound impact in inspiring our proud and passionate Pacific neighbours and their communities.”
The NRL will work with clubs to determine which sides participate in the trail matches later on.