Controversial former Eagle John Hopoate has started the push for an annual three-game style Origin series between Samoa and Tonga as the answer for the Pacific Islands to the Origin series.

Both Tongan and Samoan officials and players have also began the push for the fixture between the two clubs to become an annual event, in order to give the developing RL nations more notoriety, and to honour the large proportion of Polynesian players in the NRL.

The suggestion of a three-match series from Hopoate has received strong support with the Pacific Island nations sharing a rich history, perhaps even more vast and broad than that of QLD v NSW.

“I reckon we have three Tests a year every year, they need to build these countries up,” said Hopoate, after Samoa beat Tonga 22-6 last Sunday.

“If you’re not going to have a State of Origin type series – they have the NRL All Stars and the Aboriginal All Stars – they should have the Islanders’ All Stars, because the NRL is full of islander players.

“I had the chance to play for Tonga or Australia and I took Australia only because Australia pay and they look after their players.

“If someone could help us out we could make better games for Australia and New Zealand.

“They don’t want to play themselves and England all the time, they want to play other teams and down the track we could give them a challenge.”

There is also the belief that as of this point in time, there aren’t enough incentives in place to convince players from the Pacific Islands to play solely for their Polynesian country, and that is something that has to be rectified according to senior Pacific Island officials.

David Solomona, a former NZ international, now representing Tonga, believes that the game in the Pacific Island has the potential to become much bigger, if players can be coaxed and convinced into playing for their native country n a regular basis.

“If you have a look at the Toyota Cup I think 40 per cent of the kids playing are Polynesian,” Solomona said.

“But it’s playing Test matches, that’s what counts.

“If the international board aren’t going to give Samoa and Tonga international games, it’s obvious where the kids are going to go to.”

Solomona supports the initial idea raised by Hopoate.

“I can’t understand why not,” he said.

“It’s for the betterment of everyone. Samoa playing Tonga all the time – it’s something we need to get going.”

For former Eel turned Warrior Feleti Mateo, it has been tough deciding as to who he wishes to play for, given that he wants to play for NSW, but in order to do so, he has to give up his allegiance to Tonga.

“There’s a very grey area, it needs to be sorted,” said Mateo, who wants rules altered to reflect the changing Polynesian demographic of the game.

“People want to see the best players play, and if you’re good enough to play Origin but you can’t make Australia, I can’t see why you can’t go out and play for Tonga. It’ll make it more competitive.”

By ricky

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