Manu Samoa should, in theory, have easier access to its best players in the lead-up to Rugby World Cup 2015 after announcing a major sponsorship deal yesterday in Auckland.
This leads into today's confirmation in Wellington of details for the All Blacks' historic visit to Apia in July.
Cromwell Property Group and Redefine Properties will bankroll, for an undisclosed amount, Manu Samoa's tilt at reaching the RWC playoffs for the first time since 1999.
This is not the first time Manu Samoa have had big backers. In 1995, soon after rugby went professional, merchant bankers Fay Richwhite stepped in to assist the team.
Samoa now also have a $1 million incentive to win the RWC for the first time. The team will pocket $500,000 if they are runners-up and $250,000 as losing semifinalists. Fiji once had a similar sponsorship incentive, however unrealistic, when Vodafone dangled a $1 million carrot if they won the 2007 Rugby World Cup.
Samoan Prime Minister and long-time chairman of the Samoan Rugby Union, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, believes this deal is a huge step forward in many ways for his cash-strapped union.
"Winning the World Cup is not a fantasy ... Maybe this will make Samoan players think twice before they choose to play for other countries rather than Samoa," he said.
"Money has always been a problem for all the Pacific Island teams."
Former Manu Samoa centre and All Blacks wing Va'aiga Tuigamala, one of the last men to wear both national jerseys, welcomes the news and the recent IRB edict that former international stars can, with an 18-month stand-down period, switch to another nation if they hold an appropriate passport. This comes ahead of rugby sevens' inclusion in the Olympics from 2016.
"We've been beating this drum for a long time. We thank the IRB for opening this door for us. The best way to promote a global game is to have the best players in the world available," said Tuigamala.
"We've got a very small group of players to choose from. We're seeing some of these going to waste when they could contribute."
Into this category could fall the likes of Isaia Toeava, Sosene Anesi and Casey Laulala.
Tuigamala was also ecstatic that the All Blacks will finally play in Apia, more than 20 years since the late Peter Fatialofa issued an informal invitation after he and Tuigamala were on opposite sides in a compelling test at Eden Park.
Samoa have tests lined up for the November window against Italy, Canada and England, while they will likely appear again in the Pacific Nations Cup in 2015 after the All Blacks have come to Apia. They were as high as seventh in the IRB world rankings, but a loss to Georgia last November saw them drop to ninth.