Toa Samoa Head Coach applauds new move by RLIF

Toa Samoa Head Coach Matt Parish says Samoa and other Pacific nations will finally be able to field their most powerful teams in the upcoming Rugby League World Cup.

This follows a bold move by the Rugby League International Federation to change its eligibility rules now allowing eligible players to nominate one tier one team, and one tier two team to represent.

Players can also switch between their two countries multiple times within a World Cup Cycle.

The biggest trouble Samoa Rugby League has been dealing with is the previous eligibility law that really tied down players of Pacific descent from competing for their nations.

“The rule changes are a massive positive for Rugby League leading into the 2017 World Cup.”

“The changes allow the Pacific nations to field their strongest teams ever and I have no doubt that with the Pacific nations will be able to compete against Australia New Zealand and England,” Parish said.

“It is exciting times for International Rugby League Rugby league,” he said.

Parish though understands the struggle for Pacific island countries, like Samoa, to compete financially with well-developed tier-one teams.

“The Pacific nations will never be able to compete financially with Australia England and New Zealand and I would never stand in any player’s way if they can earn big money to help support their families,” he said.

“But what we have now is a bigger player pool for the Pacific nations to choose from and it gives us the opportunity to pick the best teams possible which is something that has not happened in my time at Samoa,” he said.

The rule change came after years of pushing, and this year, Parish says Toa Samoa will be able to do things they could have done in the past three years in the international game.

One of the biggest improvements, includes the ability for players of Pacific island descent to play for Origin and still be eligible to play for their chosen country of preference, meaning more top quality players for Pacific islands.

“Obviously I have been pushing for 3 years to have the rules changed after Anthony Milford played for Samoa in the 2013 World Cup and then was ineligible to play for Samoa in the 2014 Four Nations series because he played a under 20 game for Queensland in 2014,” he said.

“If Milford had of played for Samoa in the Four Nations we would have won the first two games. Looking forward to the historic Pacific Test in Samoa in October,” said Parish.

Samoa is currently fourth in the world in Rugby League world rankings. The list for the training squad for next month’s matchup will be officially announced next week.


Joshua Lafoai