MOOSE - Chance for equality for minnow nations

FOR a competition that is hardly more than a bit of hit and giggle, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup has sure stirred up a lot of controversy.

In the past month fans have labelled the actions of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita - who both defected to Tonga for the World Cup - as treasonous, an act against King and country.

That is just plain ridiculous. In fact what they are doing is far from tearing at the fabric of rugby league, it is merely stitching a new - more inclusive - pattern into it.

The world cup competition has a more chequered past than the United States president and that is simply down to the lack of competition involved.

In fact after the minnow nations were introduced for the first time in the 2000 World Cup, the blown- out scorelines were so bad the competition was put on indefinite hiatus.

It didn't return for another eight years, when it was reduced back to 10 teams again.

The World Cup is not a prestigious tournament - and it won't be any time soon.

It is a showpiece that needs to be used to promote the game beyond the borders of countries who are always on top.

If rugby league wants to spread beyond Australia, New Zealand and England and be prosperous, then we need to allow all minnow nations a chance to be competitive.

The Pacific Islands are the perfect place to start.

POTTSY - Selfish players hurting international league

THE RUGBY League World Cup is about to kick off, and in terms of promoting the game on the international stage there's no bigger opportunity.

That's why I don't like the idea of Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo ditching Australia and New Zealand in favour of playing for Tonga.

If international rugby league is going to expand, the best players from each country taking part need to be playing. If the selection criteria doesn't mean much, what's the point of having international rugby league?

An example can be taken from the United State's 2013 world cup campaign, where a team of NRL superstars were a surprise package and made the quarter-finals. However their success did little to boost the status of the game in the US.

Having superstars like Fifita and Taumalolo play for Tonga might help in the short term, but it won't develop future talent or raise long-term interest in the game in the island nation.

Besides, how many players born in Tonga would have loved to represent their country, but can't now because their place in the squad was taken by Fifita or Taumalolo?

If these players were dead-set about representing Tonga, I feel their intentions should have been made clear and more effort made to promote the game in the country they're representing.

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