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For many of the Pacific's best rugby players, the prospect of playing professionally can mean making a living off a game they love - but it can come at the cost of representing their nations on the international stage.
TVNZ1's Sunday revealed last night that Europe's rugby powerhouses have rejected the idea of players being able to represent more than one Test-playing nation and pro clubs fork out for uncapped members of Pacific squads to ensure they don't become international players.
It's a stark contrast to representing their country, where in some cases players earn just $100 a day - less than the New Zealand minimum wage.
Former Manu Samoa midfielder and current member of the Pacific Players' Association Seilala Mapusua told TVNZ1's Breakfast this morning the unlevel playing field faced by Tier Two nations is more dire than World Rugby acknowledges.
"Until we see some real change and movement from the north, it's going to carry on being this way," Mapusua said.
"With 18 per cent of the world's professional playing population being of PI decent, we should be seeing the results transferred in the Rugby World Cup in terms of how our Pacific Island teams are doing.
"Unfortunately, since Fiji in 2007, no Pacific Island team has made the quarter finals and that's quite alarming seeing as we have a fifth of the world's professional rugby players."
TVNZ1's Sunday revealed New Zealand Rugby proposed in 2004 to make the eligibility laws more flexible, allowing for greater freedom of players representing nations of birth or heritage.
Those attempts were quashed, though, with the major European Six Nations sides reluctant to loosen the current system.
Mapusua said he doesn't blame players for choosing to make a living for their families instead of representing their country, but that doesn't change the frustration being felt amongst the Tier Two nations.
"I think the anger's been there for a while," he said.
"We're getting to the boiling point. We'll continue to do what we can from a players' association view but we do need the support of our neigbours, both New Zealand and Australia, to get an even playing field.".
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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