21 Mar 2013

Sport: Alehana Mara happy to help Vanuatu in long-term World Cup quest

11:51 am on 21 March 2013

The New Zealand Warriors hooker Alehana Mara is hopeful that Vanuatu will one day make it to a Rugby League World Cup.

Mara is yet to play in the NRL this season after a couple of injury setbacks.

He made his international debut for Vanuatu last year when the Pacific nation played their first ever rugby league test against Greece and says it was quite the occasion.

"Rugby league is like real foreign in Vanuatu and going over there and meeting all the local players, and heaps of them coming from a soccer and rugby background, and getting them in eight days to play together and play against Greece, it was a great experience. The crowd was just wild. In the stadium they were like standing on the walls - parked up their buses and standing on the roofs of the buses and just watching. Even the boys from Greece, afterwards, said it was an amazing experience."

Alehana Mara says he plans to travel back to Vanuatu after the NRL season and is available for any test matches the country manages to arrange.

He says the ultimate goal is for Vanuatu to qualify for the next Rugby League World Cup in 2017.