4 Oct 2018

Sport: Pacific teams look to grab opportunities at Emerging Champs

12:03 pm on 4 October 2018

Vanuatu rugby league coach Lionel Harbin says today's Emerging Nations World Championship match against Hungary marks an opportunity to showcase how the game has developed in the islands.

Vanuatu's national rugby league team

Vanuatu's national rugby league team Photo: Vanuatu Rugby League Facebook

It will be Vanuatu's first game since a test against Solomon Islands last October.

Harbin said the smaller nations normally didn't get a lot of opportunities to play at the international level.

"It's a pleasant opportunity to see how far we have come," he said.

"We have only been able to play one test a year and this is a great opportunity for not just us, Vanuatu, but all the countries to see how far they are developing and see what else they have to work on and keep developing as minnow nations in rugby league so I reckon it's a great concept. "

Harbin said he had been focussed on developing home-grown talent and the tournament, held in New South Wales, would be a great measuring stick.

"About 75 percent of our players are from Vanuatu, 25 percent are based here in Australia. We are quite unique in that way," he said.

"A lot of the other teams are playing with heritage based-players.

"We've said from the start we want to develop our own and that's what we are doing so this will give us a good reading of how far we've come."

Hungary opened their account with a two point win over Greece on Monday and Harbin said they showed that they will be tough opposition.

"You know that was a highly entertaining game, the Hungary and Greece game.

"Both teams put it all out there with some great tries and they're both big, physical sides so that is something we will have to combat," he said.

"But I believe we just have to do the things that we want to focus on and if we do that we will put ourselves in the game at the end."

Niue heads into unknown against Malta

Niue's rugby league coach concedes he doesn't know a lot about their opponents in their Emerging Nations World Championship match against Malta.

It will be Niue's first test match since 2016.

Coach Brendan Perenara said one thing he did know was that his team were clear underdogs

"Just looking at the rankings, who we are going to play, they are all above us," he said.

"In the two pools of three, I think we are the bottom or sixth in the world rankings so we have a lot of work to do playing with these favourites."

Perenara said the team watched Malta's opening 36-10 victory over the Philippines from the stands.

"They play a lot of their European-based players. We see them now, we saw them on Monday and they are a big outfit, big in the middle. But they like to chuck the ball around, a bit like us."

All three Pacific teams; Niue, Vanuatu and Solomon Islands, will be in action on Sunday.

Niue have not played a test match since the end of 2016.

Niue have not played a test match since the end of 2016. Photo: Facebook/Niue Rugby League