15 Oct 2016

Sport: Vanuatu and Solomons back from rugby league wilderness

11:47 am on 15 October 2016

Vanuatu and Solomon Islands return from the rugby league wilderness today in a one-off match at Port Vila Stadium.

It's a welcome return to the international arena for Vanuatu after a scheduled match last year was cancelled following the devastating effects of Cyclone Pam.

Coach Lionel Harbin said a lot of his players have not played a game of rugby league since last year and can't wait to run out onto the field.

"It's been a long wait for the boys so they're very keen obviously to get out there and play this weekend. The last game that we had scheduled in was cancelled due to the cyclone but it's just amazing that these boys have stayed committed for this long time."

"They've kept training, they don't play many games throughout the year but they want to play for their country so it's going to be a good game this Saturday against the Solomon Islands," he said.

Vanuatu were beaten by the Philippines in their last international match two years ago prevailed 48-30 when they last came up against Solomon Islands in 2013.

He said a lot had changed in three years.

"This is our second test against the Solomon Islands - the first one was actually in Mackay in Queensland. That time both teams had a lot of Aussie-based players and this is totally different: both teams this year are going with local-based players and (it is) a great opportunity for them to showcase their talents...we've only got one player that's come from Australia, the rest are all based here in Port Vila or Santo," he said.

This afternoon's match will also be Solomon Islands' first international engagement since competing in the Nines at last year's Pacific Games in Port Moresby.