26 May 2015

Sport: Pacific rugby bosses frustrated by wasted World Cup talent

3:43 pm on 26 May 2015

The head of the Tonga Rugby Union says it's a sad fact that some of the country's best players will not be at the World Cup later this year.

Player release and international eligibility were again hot topics during last week's Oceania Rugby AGM in Sydney.

Tonga Rugby Chair Epeli Taione at a Rugby World Cup 2015 event.

Tonga Rugby Chair Epeli Taione at a Rugby World Cup 2015 event. Photo: Photosport

Pacific nations are battling to select some of their best players, who face significant drops in income from their club sides if they opt to turn out for their country at the World Cup.

The Chair and President of the Tonga Rugby Union, Epeli Taione, says a number of other players are eligible to represent Pacific countries but are holding on to an unlikely goal of playing for the All Blacks or Wallabies.

"The fact that we're going to the World Cup and some of our best players are not part of it and it's quite sad. It's not really a reflection on what the World Cup should be. Due respect to New Zealand: they've done their work - and Australia - to see Tongans sitting there watching the World Cup. Even worse, they [will] probably play one test and they never ever going to play for New Zealand and here were are hamstring our way to the World Cup and limping out of it, which is quite a sad situation for world rugby. I think really they should take a good look at themselves and stop protecting themselves alone and looking after themselves and start to consider other smaller nations".

Epeli Taione says it's not too late for players who are eligible for Tonga to declare their availability.

Following the Pacific Nations Cup, the 'Ikale Tahi will play warm up matches against Romania and two yet to be confirmed opponents, before heading to England.