Like most league fans I have been mightily impressed by the quality of football produced by all the teams over the first two weeks of the Four Nations.

The close nature of the tournament, which sees all four sides still in contention for next weekend's final in Wellington, has given the international game a tremendous boost.

Samoa deserve a huge amount of praise for ensuring their status as tournament underdogs did not translate into huge defeats and their brave performances have done plenty to lift the interest and credibility of the event.

The big question is where does the international game go from here? Structures need to be put in place to ensure this momentum is maintained.


If the likes of Samoa can continue to perform as they have then the powers that be will have to take notice and do more to support the growth of the game among the smaller playing nations.

I believe it should start with at least one game annually, or perhaps a three-game series, between the Kiwis and Samoa around the same time as the State of Origin series.

Games could be staged in New Zealand and at Penrith, west of Sydney, where there is a strong Pacific community and a strong league following. They would pack the place out.

From there the game's controlling bodies could look at enticing the other Island nations such as Fiji and Tonga to play more games and encourage the growth of the sport in those countries.

Consistent results and continual improvements from the likes of Samoa are essential to jolting the Australian administrators out of their tunnel-vision, which is focused on prioritising the NRL and State of Origin series.

It has always been a struggle to convince NRL clubs to release their players for games involving the smaller playing nations but I get the feeling that this tournament has alerted people to the great potential of the Island sides and we could start to see a shift in attitudes.

Heading into this weekend's final-round games, the team who has impressed me and played to their potential is Samoa, despite losing to England and New Zealand.

England have been steady so far but they look like they are waiting to produce their best game and I suspect that might come in tomorrow's match against the Kiwis in Dunedin.

The Kiwis started their campaign brilliantly against the Kangaroos in Brisbane and are not too far off their best either, despite a bit of a drop in standards against Samoa in Whangarei.

They had some issues with their execution and a lot of that had to do with some lateral attack and unusual running lines out wide. Samoa also deserve credit for pressuring the Kiwis into making mistakes.

These errors can be corrected quite easily and require just a few minor adjustments from the halves to get their attack back on-song.

Tomorrow's game in Dunedin looms as an intriguing clash and I don't think there will be much in it at all.

It's no secret England rely heavily on their huge forward pack and if they respect the ball and work through their sets effectively they will pose plenty of danger when they get into attacking position.

They tend to be quite one-dimensional when they work the ball off their own line so I'm interested to see how they might vary their play when they are coming out of trouble.

The Kiwis just need to be well prepared and if they have addressed the areas they struggled in last weekend they should be primed to produce a much-improved display.

Having won two games on the trot they are desperate to maintain their success to ensure their place in next weekend's final in Wellington.

It's a game they must win because anything less could see them miss out. But this Kiwis outfit has a determined mindset and tremendous belief, so it all makes for a gripping encounter.