The Rugby League World Cup has been a resounding success across the board.

Saturday night's fierce final was a fitting, if not surprising, way to conclude what has been a great contest. I didn't give England much hope yet they put up a strong challenge and made Australia really fight to win their second successive World Cup.

But the tournament will be remembered for the Pacific Island nations, the passion with which they played and the impact their supporters had on the tournament.

I still don't like the way Jason Taumalolo, Andrew Fifita, David Fusitua, Man Mau'u and Sio Siua Taukeiaho pledged their allegiance to Tonga at the 11th hour but I admit the end result has been fantastic for the game.


But here's the thing. It will count for little if they switch back and play for New Zealand or Australia in 2018. They have an opportunity to change the game forever if they continue to play for Tonga exclusively at representative level.

For years we have wondered what Tonga or Samoa or Fiji could muster if they had access to all of their best talent but now we have the answer. For years the game has talked about what they can do to help the small island nations but without the motivation of money little has happened.

The games that drew the most interest in this tournament (barring the final maybe) were the games involving Tonga. They attracted big crowds and were the talking point of the tournament.

The game's leading administrators cannot turn their back on the demand to see Tonga in action now. They couldn't turn away from the television audience or the grandstands filled with red supporters gear. If Taumalolo and co stick to their guns they will force the game to schedule meaningful tests involving Tonga on a far more regular basis. They will ensure they have an international schedule in between World Cups because there is too much of an opportunity for the game to make a buck out of it.

It was a ballsy call by those players to shun their former teams, leave behind the much bigger pay packets to represent Tonga but going back and playing for the big boys next year will undo all of the good work that has been done. It will give the administrators the out not to change things.

So I ask those players to do right by the game and stick with the cause. It will mean giving up easy money next year but what it will do is ensure that your name and the work you've done will live on in immortality.