Rugby League's governing body says a profitable World Cup could open the door to higher match payments for Pacific teams and other smaller nations.
The Rugby League International Federation pays equal expenses for all teams during the World Cup, including flights, accommodation, meals, transport and daily allowances, but it's up to national federations to provide match payments.
Players from top-tier countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, will earn match payments of up to $50,000 for the six-week tournament, but players representing smaller nations, such as Fiji, Samoa, Tonga and Papua New Guinea, will earn as little as a $30 a day in per diems.
RLIF International Development Manager Tas Baitieri said Australia, New Zealand and England have huge financial muscle and can afford to pay top dollar but second and third tier nations simply cannot compete.
"The other countries, like your Tonga's and Samoa's, they're all developing economies and don't have the capacity to pay the players so the International Federation is the one that will be required to see how we can prop them up," he said.
"And that would have to come from excess revenue from the World Cup, to be able to have enough surplus income to pay the players what they would be due.
"So it ain't going to be solved overnight and let's hope the World Cup this year will deliver the outcome that we need so that the International Federation is in a much stronger position to be able to afford to play the players what they deserve."
Tas Baitieri said the matter was likely to be on the agenda when the Board of the International Federation meets in Sydney next week.