Written by Joshua Dean
State of Origin is one of the greatest things in Rugby League. The rivalry between New South Wales and Queensland captivates millions of fans but many great players miss out on participating due to being ineligible for selection.
Having a three-game NZ v Tonga series played during the State of Origin window would give some of these players a chance to build their own rivalry, whilst playing in high intensity environments.
The Oceania Cup would continue featuring Samoa, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands.
New Zealand have played the Tongan Rugby League team on six occasions, winning five times but Tonga have become a powerhouse in recent years and the battles between the two nations are great to watch. The problem is they just don’t play each another enough.
The concept would give fans from New Zealand, Tonga and other Pacific nations something they can support and connect with. Imagine a packed out Mount Smart Stadium for a deciding game between New Zealand and Tonga. The atmosphere would be electric and the quality of play would give the two teams a chance to compete with Australia at World Cups.
As for where the games should be held, two games in New Zealand and one game in Tonga would be ideal. This gives the fans an opportunity to watch their heroes play at least three times a year, hopefully more with end of season Test matches.
Game 1 – Eden Park (Auckland, New Zealand)
Game 2 – Teufaiva Sport Stadium (Nuku’alofa, Tonga)
Game 3 – Mt Smart Stadium (Auckland, New Zealand)
For too long now we only get to see International teams play every so often and that needs to be changed now. In doing so, Rugby League can only gain.