Fullback Francois Steyn clears the ball with a tackle from Manu Samoa's Alesana Tuilagi during their Test match against the Springboks at Ellis Park Stadium in Johannesburg, Saturday, 9 June 2007. South Africa won 35-8. Picture: Gavin Stapleton/SAPA

In New Zealand, there are plans to form a new Super Rugby team from the Pacific islands.

The team will apparently be known as the “Pacific Force”, will be based in Fiji and will feature players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

According to a report by New Zealand’s TV3, “the idea is that rugby will help keep hearts and minds away from China, which is saturating the region with money to obtain influence”.

The New Zealand Rugby Players’ Association said the government had simply carried out a feasibility study into such a team, which reportedly cost NZ$80 000.

NZRPA chief Rob Nichol says: “[The study] raised as many questions as it answered... to suggest plans are afoot and it’s all going to happen is a bit premature.”

As a team, the Pacific Islanders last played international rugby back in 2008, beating Italy 25-17 in their last outing.

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