Pacific Island rugby players will receive new off-field career and education support in a new programme being launched in Fiji.
The Player Personal Development Programme was launched at the Oceania Rugby AGM in Auckland and is a collaboration between the Pacific Island Players Association and Fiji Rugby Union.
It will invest $NZ650,000 into the Fijian programme over three years, with additional funds to be allocated later in the year to run parallel initiatives in Samoa and Tonga.
PIPA board member and current Fiji captain Akapusi Qera wanted the programme to have an enduring influence on personal lives, families and the wider communities in Fiji.
"Our vision with this programme is for the players to have support before, during and after their careers. We want them to be engaged, organised and well balanced people."
The program, which is supported by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Reserve Bank of Fiji, will provide support in five key personal development areas which include Career and Education, Financial, Family and Culture, Professional Rugby Development, and Personal Development.
More than 600 Pacific Islanders ply their trade as professional rugby across the globe and Flying Fijians and Crusaders winger Nemani Nadolo said it's great that there will be more support and education for Fijian players.
"This programme will challenge players to maximise their potential in rugby and life which we hope will have ongoing advantages for players, Fiji Rugby and the wider Fijian community."
Fiji Rugby Union Chief Executive Officer John O'Connor said his organisation wanted to continue to drive success for Fiji Rugby on the international stage.
"We are aware that our ability to retain and develop talented players is largely determined by the environment we create for them, the Personal Development Programme will be a central part of our environment that we strive to continuously improve."