13 Jul 2016

Sport: Niue excited for African league tour

1:47 pm on 13 July 2016

The Niue rugby league team will take part in a Tri Series against South Africa and Lebanon in October, ending a year in the international wilderness.

The Rock haven't played since beating 2013 World Cup representatives Cook Islands 44-22 in Sydney nine months ago.

Brendan Perenara's side previously thrashed South Africa 48-4 last May and he said the chance to travel abroad is further step in their development.

"It all came from playing them the first time. We had a game against South Africa in 2015 to get us on the world rankings and they want to play us again to make it a series," he said.

"We sort of left the May calendar off the radar for now and concentrated on our tour to South Africa because we're going to play them and Lebanon in Pretoria this year so we thought we better concentrate on those two test matches for the year."

Niue rugby league team.

Niue rugby league team. Photo: Niue Rugby League

Brendan Perenara said West Tigers veteran and former New Zealand Kiwis utility Dene Halatau has expressed interest in representing Niue, while they also expect to have a number of NRL Under 20s and New South Wales Cup players in their squad.

He said the Tri-Series is a big opportunity to test themselves in a new environment.

"We're privileged to go on this tour to play South Africa and Lebanon, and Lebanon are in the World Cup (next year). It will be good to test them out and see where we place ourselves before we try and make it up there.," he said.

"It's out of our comfort zone. We're used to playing in the Pacific and it's a big stepping stone for us, especially our little nation, Niue, coming from a little Rock of Polynesia. It's a fair way to go and it's all self-funded so the boys are paying out of their own pockets to get there and it's a privilege to play for our country too."

Niue will be the first Pacific nation to tour Africa.

The Rock is ranked 33rd in the world rankings, two places below South Africa, with Lebanon 20th in the world.