NRL must do more for Pacific nations, says Samoan coach Matt Parish

Sauaso Sue of Samoa is tackled during the International Rugby League Test match between Tonga and Samoa on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images
Sauaso Sue of Samoa is tackled during the International Rugby League Test match between Tonga and Samoa on Saturday. Photo / Getty Images

Samoa coach Matt Parish has lashed out at those in charge of international rugby league at the NRL, labelling them "weak".

Parish's frank views come amid revelations the Samoan players received no match payments for their game against Tonga at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.

The Tongan side received $500 each in match payments, but only after sourcing their own sponsorship.

In contrast, players from the Kangaroos, Kiwis, City and Country all received match payments from the NRL.

Parish believes this discrepancy is a blight on the game and has called for someone to stand up for the Pacific nations.

"No one gets looked after in the Pacific Tests and it's unfair," Parish told The Daily Telegraph.

"The NRL pays money for the City and Country, the Kangaroos and the Kiwis players to be paid, but the Pacific nations as with a lot of things seem to get overlooked.

"The people in charge of the Pacific nations that work for the NRL are all weak.
"They liaise for Australia and Australian team managers.

"They walk around in green blazers and they pick and choose who we can pick.
"It's the most ridiculous thing I've ever been involved with.

"The rules are there because there are no rules - they are ridiculous and they make them up as they go.

"Until we get someone willing to stand up for the Pacific nations we are always going to have this problem."

At present, Australia and New Zealand receive about $180,000 each to fund the mid-season Test.

In contrast, the Pacific Nations share about $350,000 between the four countries.

This means each nation has roughly $87,000 each to cover all costs.

The coaches also don't get paid for their services and Parish would like to see change for the growth of the global game.

He is well supported by his Tongan counterpart Kristian Woolf.

"Whatever we are able to get we make sure we give the players as much reward as we can," Woolf said.

"Our guys would play for free, but by no means does it make it fair."

Parish believes the NRL doesn't want Pacific nations like Samoa and Tonga to be too strong because it hurts the bigger countries.

"They don't want us to beat Australia and New Zealand, because if that happens people will lose jobs," he fired.

"The people in there are saying we need to get the Kangaroos back to No. 1 and they are the ones saying you can't pick Anthony Milford for Samoa.

"You can't pick Tuimoala Lolohea for Tonga, because they don't want us to beat them.
"But they want us to be strong and put on this marvellous show, which we will continue to do because even more players now want to play for the Pacific nations."

ARLC chairman John Grant was asked on Saturday if the NRL would consider paying players' match fees for other countries to discourage them from switching nations for money.

"We do that for New Zealand," Grant said.

"Without trying to commit ourselves in any sense, we have to try and make that [player's call] a neutral decision. Frankly, there's a fair bit of money involved for that to happen. Australia and New Zealand, then can only pick 25 players in a squad.

"It still leaves an enormous number of players to be available for their nation."

Grant's comments highlight that it's currently cheaper to allow the top three nations to pick the best players available from the smaller nations, while the lesser known countries fight on with what is left.

Samoa will host their maiden Test match on home soil in Apia against Fiji on October 8.

The ARLC will provide financial support for the match, including supplying a referee and senior staff and management.


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