SPORTS

Suva ‘Venue’ for Cyclones

The ANZ Stadium in Suva, along with Westpac Stadium in New Zealand, could be home to the Wellington-based South Pacific Cyclones in the National Rugby League (NRL) 2018 season. Provided
24 Oct 2015 09:54
Suva ‘Venue’ for Cyclones
Rugby League star Akuila Uate and wife Samantha at Votua village, Coral Coast yesterday.

The ANZ Stadium in Suva, along with Westpac Stadium in New Zealand, could be home to the Wellington-based South Pacific Cyclones in the National Rugby League (NRL) 2018 season.
Provided if the team gets the green light, the South Pacific Cyclones will be the second New Zealand team in the NRL and could play up to half their home matches in Fiji.
The consortium of Australian and New Zealand investors who are backing the South Pacific Cyclones aims to help develop the game in New Zealand as well as the Pacific region.
Fiji National Rugby League (FNRL) chairman Filimoni Vosarogo said they had not been consulted about the possibility of the Cyclones playing their matches in Fiji. Although it would be a boost to the game, he said they would prefer player development.
“From a game development and tourism point, this would be something big, but FNRL has not been involved in this proposal,” Vosarogo said.
“This would obviously be a boost and raise the profile of the sport, but we also want development of players.”
With a population of 900,000, Fiji is the biggest of the Pacific nations and has a recently upgraded 19,000 capacity at the ANZ Stadium which would be suitable for hosting NRL matches.
With the emergence of stars like Parramatta wing sensation, Semi Radradra and the success of the Vodafone Fijian Bati in qualifying for the semifinals at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in the UK, the sport is growing at a rapid pace.
Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Consortium spokesman Robert Picone said the setting up of a second team from New Zealand and playing its matches in Fiji was part of the NRL’s plans to grow the sport in the Pacific Islands.
“This is a great development for our bid as it satisfies the NRL’s plans of expanding into the Pacific Islands as well as New Zealand,” Picone said.
“It grows our catchment area of support and does not put too much competitive pressure on the Warriors.
“Added to this is the enormous talent pool of players in the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, being largely untapped and therefore not diluting existing talent in the current clubs, particularly in the mid-to-long term.”
If the bid goes through Picone said the South Pacific Cyclones were ideally placed to fill the 18th spot.
He he pointed out that the flying time for Australian-based NRL teams would be similar if they were playing in New Zealand or Fiji.
“We believe our bid is most compelling and provides a win-win for the NRL and all stakeholders,” he said.
“We will be ready for the 2018 kick-off and an 18 team competition.”
Representatives of the Wellington bid team plan to meet with the NRL to discuss their proposal in further detail.

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