19 Oct 2015

Sport: League bosses praise growing depth in the Pacific

1:20 pm on 19 October 2015

Rugby league's world governing body says the game is continuing to expand in the Pacific region.

Tonga beat Cook Islands 28-8 in at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday to qualify for the upcoming World Cup.

Samoa and Fiji have already qualified for the 2017 tournament while Papua New Guinea are co-hosting three matches, alongside Australia and New Zealand.

There will only be four Pacific teams in the next World Cup, compared with five in 2013, but

Tas Baitieri from the Rugby League International Federation says there is a lot of depth in the region.

"In July we had the Pacific Games in Port Moresby and we had a brand new country play on the international stage there in the Solomon Islands. We had Niue and Vanuatu that wanted to play but unfortunately financial constraints prevented them from entering the competition. We could definitely supply ten national federations at the Pacific Games comes 2019 in Tonga, which just gives you an indication of how broad and what a good a position that we are in in terms of a sport with the game in the region".

Tonga celebrate qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Tonga celebrate qualifying for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Photo: Twitter / NRL

Vanuatu v Greece

Vanuatu take on Greece back in 2012. Photo: Vanuatu Rugby League