Former Crusaders Super Rugby winger and Fijian international Nemani Nadolo has called for the Pacific Islands to be given a Super Rugby team.
Super Rugby has just been cut from 18 teams to 15 but the Fijian start has renewed calls for the Pacific Islands to be included in the Southern Hemisphere main club tournament.
The Cheetahs, South Kings and Western Force have all been dropped from Super Rugby although the Force could return if the tournament is expanded after the current broadcast deal expires in 2019.
The Cheetahs and Southern Kings have already found playing places in the Northern Hemisphere which makes them unlikely to return.
Plans are being made for the format when the broadcast deal renews and after the Pacific Islands missed out when the tournament was last expanded they could be included from 2020.
Nadolo, who now plays for Montpellier in the Top14, says that it is imperative for the future of rugby in the Pacific Islands that a team be included in Super Rugby.
“In Samoa, in Tonga and in Fiji they idolize Super Rugby,” Nadolo told FoxSports.
“They watch more Super Rugby than their heroes who play in Europe.
“If you took a game to Samoa, to Tonga, Fiji and put the ticket prices down, you’re going to get numbers through and it’ll bring everyone together.
“It’s what the island nations need at the moment.
“We need a team that’s going to put us back on the map and Super Rugby would be the ideal competition.”
This year the Highlanders will play the Chiefs in Suva while the Chiefs and Crusaders have played matches and the Reds played the Blues in Samoa last year.
Nadolo says that a combined Pacific Islands team would be best so that all of the regions could pool their resources together.
“If you’re going to put an islander team or Fijian team, I’d combine a Samoan, Tongan, Fijian mixture because we’re probably limited to what we can do and all our players all play overseas,” Nadolo said.
“A Pacific Islander team would be ideal because having one country is probably not fair to us – we’re all in the same league in terms of infrastructure, rugby wise and resources – so if we can combine with one force and attack Super Rugby it would be pretty exciting to see and you’re going to get more numbers and more interest from the Pacific Islander community.”