Samoa coach Matt Parish has challenged the Rugby League International Federation to compensate teams playing in the World Cup equally so that the so-called second tier nations can break the stranglehold held by the traditional super powers.
Australia, England and New Zealand have all qualified for the semi-finals in every World Cup that they have contested but as the 14 captains and coaches gathered in Brisbane there was a growing confidence amongst many nations that such dominance could end this year, reports NRL.
The likes of Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Italy and Fiji all genuinely believe they can put together a World Cup campaign that reaches the semi-finals at the very least, with Tonga’s hopes bolstered by the high-profile inclusions of Jason Taumalolo and Andrew Fifita.
After being knocked out in the quarter-final stage in England four years ago by Fiji, Samoa has continued to improve, almost causing major upsets in the 2014 Four Nations tournament when they pushed both England and New Zealand until the 80th minute.
Preparing to open their campaign against New Zealand in Auckland on Saturday, Samoa also shares Pool B with Tonga and Scotland with three teams each from Pool A and Pool B to advance to the quarter-final stage.
Players from the Kangaroos will receive as much as $50,000 for their participation in the tournament whereas those representing Italy will receive nothing, and Parish is adamant that in order for the next World Cup to be even more evenly contested the financial rewards need to be equal.
“Pay us what Australia and New Zealand are getting,” Parish said when asked how to enhance the prospects of the second tier nations.
“It should be a level playing field. I’ve been an advocate for this for a long time but I can’t see why when you put on an Australia jumper or Samoa, Tonga or Fiji or whoever why you don’t get the same. I don’t understand why.
“Where did the profits go from the last World Cup? I can tell you that they didn’t go to any of the Pacific nations.
“The thing that gets me about second tier nations is that if we were all paid the same we’re all first tier nations.