24 Oct 2016

Sport: Niue depart for African rugby league tour

12:49 pm on 24 October 2016

The Niue rugby league team fly out today for a two-week tour of South Africa as they continue their development on the international stage.

The Rock were originally pencilled in to play one test each against South Africa and Lebanon before the latter cancelled without explanation a month ago.

Head coach Brendan Perenara said they will instead play two tests against the host nation, who are ranked two places above them at 31 in the world.

"Once they put on that Niuean jersey I'm sure they will give it 100 percent, no doubt. Our core have been together for a couple of years now," he said.

"To travel over there we don't want to play in the backyard so we're making sure these are test matches and ranked and we are hoping to get the two wins and go up the ladder so (we're) closer to qualify for a World Cup, actually."

The Niue squad in training before leaving for South Africa.

The Niue squad in training before leaving for South Africa. Photo: Facebook / Niue Rugby League

History is on Niue's side, with the Rock resounding 48-4 winners when the teams last met in May 2015.

Niue will be the first Pacific Island rugby league nation to tour Africa and Brendan Perenara said the self-funded trip is costing about $AU120,000.

"I take my hat off to our boys that are travelling, leaving their families behind. We're not professional players: we're all working players and staff and we've all got families to take care of before we leave so I take my hat off to all our staff and players that are going over with us to represent our country over there."

Full Niue squad:

Alex Seini, Tristan Alvarado, Wes Lolo, Savu Folau, Jordan Tongahai, Reggie Perenara, Mike Kaifoto, Mike Filimona, Tuki Jackson, Lolu Ma'u, Justin Bernard, Tamati Ulukita, Alfred Smalley, Josiah Tamasi, Jeco Makatoa, Brett Ferguson, Nephi Kapinga, Jacob Samoa, Zeb Luisi, Kodez Simeki, Artis Livapulu, Temata Rangi.