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Former rugby league player, Willie Mason (of Tongan heritage), is calling for a Pacific Island All Stars to be included in the annual All Stars fixture over the next few years.
“That’s the future of the game. Imagine how good a Tongan and Samoan side would be. Chuck Fiji in there as well. It would be amazing," he told Sporting News.
The All Stars fixture is an annual event and since 2019, it was reintroduced as an Indigenous All Stars vs Maori All Stars. This year the All Stars will take place in Townsville, Australia, this weekend.
Willie, who has played 27 Tests for Australia and Tonga, and 13 State of Origin matches for the Blues, said the All Stars is a great concept.
"And I don’t think people realise how much it means to the Indigenous and the Maori boys - it just means so much."
"I think somehow, they need to introduce a Pacific or Polynesian All Stars as well. That’s when it’s gonna happen. That’ll be unreal."
He said while the idea won’t rival origin matches, he believes it has the potential to be as important to the players.
"It's 100 per cent on par. I see some young kids get picked for that Indigenous side, and it’s the highlight of their career.”
Willie has stayed involved in rugby league since he retired in 2016. He has plans to take on a mentoring role in a pathways program for Polynesian kids alongside New South Wales Rugby League.
“Just keeping them on the straight and narrow.”
“When they come through the grades, at 17, 18 and 19, they can lose their way a bit. So, I’ll be there, just to talk to them."
He explained they have a different upbringing.
“Where we come from, you have to play. You need to be successful, make some money and look after your family. Even one big contract can set your whole life up.”.
SOURCE: TONGA WIRES/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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