The Vanuatu Rugby League has welcomed the announcement that an Emerging Nations World Championship will be revived next year after an 18 year absence. Vanuatu, along with Niue, is one of ten teams tentatively scheduled to take part in the November 2018 event in Western Sydney.
Vanuatu manager and board member Ben Howard said the event would continue the slow but steady growth of popularity the sport was experiencing in the country.
Howard said the guarantee of international competition is fantastic. “Obviously being in the Pacific where costs are quite high in terms of travel only enables us to play one or maybe two test matches a year,” he said.
“But this will give us, obviously something to aim for, for our players to strive towards, but also be able to play multiple test matches within a short period of time.
Howard looked forward to seeing Vanuatu lock horns with other tier two and three nations.
The likes of Canada, Greece, (who beat Vanuatu 24-14 in 2012), Hong Kong, Hungary, the Philippines and Thailand are expected to be at the Championships.
Howard said he expects his team to be handle such competition well.
“A lot of of those other teams use predominantly Australian or overseas-based players where in our last test match we had 80-90 percent of our players from Vanuatu in the local competition.
“It’s always going to be difficult for us to compete against the likes of players playing in the Queensland Cup, the NRL and the NSW Cup, but our players just keep getting better every year,” he said. Howard believes it will take a generation of players, or at least ten years, before a ni-Vanuatu player cracks the big time of the NRL.