The perfect candidate for the 18th NRL team.

The NRL would be wise to consider a Pasifika team as the 18th team to enter the competition in the next few years, after recently adding the Dolphins as the 17th team. A team comprising players with Pacific Island heritage would be popular, appropriate and very, very hard to beat.

The Pacific Island nations of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and PNG have become the new rugby league heartland and continue to supply more and more players to NRL and representative teams. It is estimated that almost 50% of NRL players have Pacific Island heritage. In addition, Rugby League is the national obsession in PNG and NRL players enjoy rock star status throughout the country, while the sport is starting to threaten Rugby Union for supremacy in the remaining three nations.

Every player in the squad would ideally possess Pasifika heritage. It would represent the islands and be based in either Queensland, for geographical reasons, or in Auckland. Auckland has a large Pasifika population, and Kiwi league fans could attend twice as many NRL games in New Zealand.

Isn’t this copying Super Rugby?

Yes. Super Rugby will add Moana Pasifika to the competition in the coming years. This is a good idea, so why not copy it?

A Pasifika team would also allow the NRL to honour the region which is supplying so many of the games best players, players who have elevated and redefined the game. Some games could be played in Pacific Island nations, which helps to grow the sport, and Channel 9 commentators might finally learn to pronounce players’ names correctly.

Would the team be any good?

Read the list of 30 potential squad members below, then consider the names that have been left out, and decide for yourself:

Fullback – Stephen Crichton

Wing – Xavier Coates, Brian To’o

Centres – Waqa Blake, Justin Olam

Halves – Anthony Milford, Jarome Luai

Props – Josh Papali’i, Junior Paulo

Hooker – Api Koroisau,

Back row – Viliame Kikau, Isaiah Papali’i

Lock – Jason Taumalolo

Squad members:

Will Hopoate, Maika Sivo, Kotoni Staggs, Daniel Tupou, David Nofoaluma, Brandon Wakeham, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, Sitili Tupouniua, Tevita Tatola, Moses Leota, Martin Taupau, Addin Fonua-Blake, Siliva Havili, Tevita Pangai Jr, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Felise Kaufusi, David Fifita.

Image: Getty Images