New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) chief executive Greg Peters has claimed the country fielding a women’s under-23 team at the Solomon Islands 2023 Pacific Games for the first time represents a “great opportunity” for selected players.

Men’s rugby league has featured at the Pacific Games since 2007, with a first women’s tournament held in Samoa four years ago.
The nines format featuring nine players in each team and shorter matches compared to the 13-a-side version of the sport is on the programme again for Solomon Islands 2023.

Fiji are the men’s and women’s reigning champions.

New Zealand has been invited to compete at the Pacific Games in rugby league for the first time by the New Zealand Olympic Committee, following a reported 32 per cent rise in female participation in the sport in the country.

Female players aged 20 to 23 based in New Zealand are eligible to represent the country in the sport at the Games, which are scheduled for 19 November to 02 December.

Peters said the Games offer a pathway to representing New Zealand in future international competition.

“We have never had that relationship, so it is good to be able to be in those conversations,” he commented.

“This is a great opportunity for our young female players to be part of a wider New Zealand sporting team and experience competing in a Games environment.

“Ultimately, we want to create opportunities for female players in New Zealand outside of the NRLW [National Rugby League Women’s Premiership].”

Governing body International Rugby League wants the nines discipline to debut at the Olympic Games at Brisbane 2032.