Without doubt the 2014 Four Nations tournament in Australia and New Zealand has been a success on the field.
This weekend saw both games go down to the final minutes with New Zealand’s endurance the factor in their victory over Samoa, and England’s heartbreaking loss to Australia in Melbourne yesterday.
There’s no doubt International Rugby League got a boost during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in England with good crowds, and the emergence of developing nations in Italy and Samoa.
It’s important that the momentum is kept and that these developing nations get their chance to play against the best more regularly.
I feel it’s a shame that Samoa won’t be there for the next Four Nations tournament to be played in 2016 over in England. In the European Championship that ended last night, Scotland qualified for the tournament ahead of France, Ireland and Wales. This means the next chance Samoa can play top flight rugby league nations is at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup to be played in Australia and New Zealand.
In the meantime Samoa are likely to play the likes of Papua New Guinea and Fiji in the lead-up to the next major event. That will be to the detriment of the nation as the big name stars like Frank Pritchard, Daniel Vidot and Mose Masoe unlikely to be available for these matches.
Samoa have earned their right as the fourth permanent nation given they almost knocked off England and should have held on against the Kiwis. And you would expect another competitive performance from them again this week against Australia in Wollongong.
It could be as simple as playing over four weekends, with the winner decided by ‘first past the post’. Surely we don’t need a Grand Final decider, do we?
With New Zealand heading to England for a three test series in 2015, one would hope that Australia could organise to play a couple of tests against the Samoans to continue to promote the game through the Pacific.
Kudos to Toa Samoa, you deserve your place on the big stage.