Samoa looking at joining Super 14

Samoan Rugby Union are looking at the possibility of pushing for a team in the Super 14 that would play several of its ‘home’ matches in either New Zealand or Australia.

SANZAR officials have finished the latest round of expansion talks with Samoan and Fijian rugby officials on August 4 in Apia.

Key figures from the Tongan Rugby Union were unable to attend the meeting.

The plight of island rugby is again the discussion for debate given the weakened nature of the Manu Samoa side which is set to take on the All Blacks at New Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium.

Samoa, Fiji and Tonga are petitioning for stand-alone entries into an enlarged Super Rugby competition, with Sanzar set to give the green-light for significant change from the 2011 season.

A previous idea that had been put forward was that a Pacific Islanders composite team could be included but Samoan Rugby Union chief executive Peter Schuster says that the body are committed to a stand-alone entry.

They are also said to be investigating hosting some of their matches away from Apia for financial reasons.

“Those are the options that they are looking at, where you can get good gate money and whether you go to Australia or Mt Smart,” Schuster told Yahoo!Xtra.

“All these things are important information for the viability of the teams.”

Schuster did not rule out a Pacific Islands composite team taking part in the tournament he said that they favoured or a stand-alone entry: “That would be the preference.

“We would like to have our own franchise in the Super Series and also a test team in a series. That would give you more depth of players and also allow us the retention of good players.

“At this point of time they (Sanzar) have to make a decision around mid next year.

“For us, and for Tonga and Fiji, we are looking at exploring the viability of professional opportunities. We need to give some options to the Sanzar group.”

Schuster said that gaining entry into an expanded Super Rugby competition was the key to Samoa, along fellow island nations, being able to progress.

That included providing players with a professional pathway to continue playing in their homeland, a move which would help stem the player drain off-shore as the players would be able to play in their home country.

That is the main issue which sees a decimated the Samoan participating in next Wednesday’s test against the All Blacks.

The latest round of Sanzar talks in Apia was convened by Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, the chairman of the Samoan Rugby Union.

Also in attendance were NZRU chairman Jock Hobbs and his Australian counterpart Peter McGrath.

Malielegaoi said he was: “happy with progress of the initial consultations with Sanzar and the possible opportunities for the Pacific Unions to talk to all the parties in Sanzar as any future changes which could open up opportunities for the Pacific Unions will require a unanimous decision by the Sanzar members.”

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