International league is on the rise.

Gone are the days where it was a rarity to see an emerging nation play a test match outside of a World Cup competition; when New Zealand, Australia and England were the only teams who seemed to get the opportunity.

This weekend, six nations were represented at test level, with New Zealand, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and Samoa fielding both men's and women's teams.

The game has been growing since the emergence of the tier two nations at the 2017 World Cup, most notably Mate Ma'a Tonga and Fiji who both toppled New Zealand during the tournament.


It's growth Tongan prop Tevita Pangai Jr hopes to see continued in the coming years, with a mid-season test window an attractive proposition.

"I wish they would have a mid-season break where we could play some test footy while the Origin is on," he said. "I'm sure people at clubs would appreciate that if there was Origin and like a month's break mid-season.

"I reckon it'd be good for the game to do that."

Part of the rise in international football has come from powerhouses like Pangai Jr choosing to represent an emerging nation over one of the tier one sides. With stars like former Kiwi lock Jason Taumalolo and former Australian prop Andrew Fifita choosing to play for Mate Ma'a Tonga, more players have followed suit.

Recently, Manly Sea Eagles prop Martin Taupau and Brisbane Broncos winger Jamayne Isaako were both named in the Kiwis wider squad for the test against Mate Ma'a Tonga, but instead chose to represent Samoa in their match against Papua New Guinea.

Now, the tier two nations are testing those at the top.

"If we get a few more people and young players following their lead then I'm sure there will be a lot more respect in the international game," Pangai Jr said.

"The more games we play together, I think the more chance we are to compete with the top nations.


"Hopefully the international game doesn't take a backward step and they give us more games; not just ourselves but Samoa, Fiji and all the other nations.

Men's test results:
Kiwis 34 Mate Ma'a Tonga 14
Fiji 58 Lebanon 14
Samoa 24 Papua New Guinea 6

Women's test results:
Kiwi Ferns 46 Fetu Samoa 8
Fiji 28 Papua New Guinea 0