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Former Samoa and Highlanders centre Seilala Mapusua hopes Pacific Island rugby factions can put their differences aside to drive a Super Rugby franchise.
Newshub has revealed that the 'Pacific Force' proposal has emerged from a study, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) and conducted by New Zealand Rugby, into establishing a Fiji-based franchise with 'home' games in Samoa, Tonga, Auckland and Sydney.
The team could be part of Super Rugby within two seasons and has been widely supported by NZR chairman Brent Impey, new board member and former Manu Samoa coach Sir Michael Jones, and the Pacific Players Association.
Mapusua, who played 26 tests for Manu Samoa, is the Samoan players association representative and told The AM Show this recommendation had been a long time coming.
"It's something that's been in the pipeline and it's now taking a closer step to becoming a reality," he said.
"We can sit here all day and talk about the things that the unions haven't done, but we like to be outcome focused.
"We're still not there yet, but we're really focused on getting a great outcome for Pacific rugby."
Combined Pacific Island rugby teams are not a new concept, but they have usually failed due to political in-fighting. The last iteration played between 2004-08, winning just three of 11 games.
They lost 41-26 to the All Blacks at North Harbour Stadium in 2004.
"There's always going to be problems and I'm sure there will be a lot of teething issues should this plan come to fruition," Mapusua told The AM Show. "But I'm sure it's something that can be worked through.
"I'm hoping the powers that be will see the greater cause here and the benefits of having a Pacific Island team in this competition."
After his five-year stint with the Highlanders, Mapusua headed to Europe and logged 126 games for London Irish, before ending his career in Japan two years ago.
"[This team] means our players wouldn't have to head overseas or so far away from home to earn their living, and they'll be in possibly the best domestic competition in the world.".
Pacific Islands News Association
Who & What is PINA?
International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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