Fiji’s NRL dream a step closer

PETERO Civoniceva's dream of seeing Fiji playing in a rugby league competition in Australia is just days away from becoming a reality.

The former Brisbane, Queensland and Kangaroo front-rower has spent the past 12 months lobbying support from corporate sponsors in Fiji and rugby league officials in Australia. He says he is very hopeful two crucial meetings this week will pave the way for a Fijian national side to be admitted into the NSW Cup in 2016, in much the same way Papua New Guinea competes in the Queensland Cup.

Australia's most-capped forward said the team would play its home games in the ANZ Stadium in Suva which holds up to 20,000 people.

"We could have a major naming rights sponsor by the end of the week," Civoniceva told APN.

"We already have an Australian coach who's prepared to relocate to Fiji as soon as we get the backers across the line."

Civoniceva said he had been working on the ambitious project with Rockhampton businessman Greg Browne since he captained Fiji at last year's World Cup in England. The Suva-born 38-year-old said the inclusion of a team in the NSW Cup could be a catalyst to uncover more exciting players such as wingers Semi Radradra, Akuila Uate and Marika Koroibete, and eventually having a team in the NRL.

"We could also see some exciting rugby union players (many who are playing in Europe) switch codes," Civoniceva said.

"If it comes off we would have 12 months to set up a squad, get the players up to the required fitness and skill levels and start to build something that could be very special."

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