PNG Hunters provide blueprint for Bati to follow: Hayne
Eels star Jarryd Hayne says the need to have a team from Fiji in the NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership was now more obvious because of the success of PNG at Test level.
The Kumuls 26-14 win over Fiji at Campbelltown Stadium last weekend was not supposed to happen with the Bati boasting players established NRL players like Hayne, Suliasi Vunivalu [Melbourne], Akuila Uate [Manly], Kevin Naiqama [Wests Tigers] and Marcelo Montoya [Bulldogs].
But Hayne said the fact nine of the Kumuls 17 were from the PNG Hunters team in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup – which joined the reserve grade competition in 2014 – was the backbone of the upset.
By comparison, Fiji have players from 11 different clubs.
"That's what happens when you get that Intrust Super team members playing for their country," Hayne said.
"That's massive. People don't realise that those [Test] players have been together for almost two years now.
"It's huge for those blokes in that second [division] league because they chip away and have a cohesion with the blokes underneath them.
"When you go into a game like this, if something doesn't go to plan you fall back into what you normally do.
"We didn't have that to fall back on. In the  World Cup we got better and better as we played. But that was our first game last weekend since last year.
"It's full credit to the PNG guys and their reward for getting a team in the Intrust Super Cup. It shows what happens when you consistently play together."
The Fiji National Rugby League officially endorsed a Fiji team for the Intrust Super Premiership in January, with plans to enter the NSWRL competition in 2019.
But there have been a few hiccups with securing sponsorships, funding, organisational structure, playing and training facilities. Legendary Fiji captain and former Australian, Queensland and Broncos forward Petero Civoniceva has been working tirelessly with the FNRL.
But Hayne, who has played 10 Tests for the Bati and competed in two World Cups, said there was still some hesitation by local Fiji officials.
Hayne said the FNRL concerned domestic players would be raided by NRL clubs if a team was playing in the NSWRL Intrust Super Premiership.
"We want the guys underneath us to have the chance that we got. An Intrust Super Premiership team would do that," Hayne said.
"They're worried the clubs will just come and get them. But that's not how it works. We're talking about the guys who don't want to play in Australia, or who haven't got the development yet to play in Australia.
"Look at the Kumuls, they get that. They gave the World Cup a good shake [quarter-finals] and then they smoked us last weekend.
"We had more talent but when it came down to fundamentals, they completed sets better than us due to familiarity."