Fiji’s bid for a NSW Cup side received a major boost on Friday, with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison committing funding to the group’s efforts.

“I am happy to announce that we will be helping fund Fiji’s pathway into the New South Wales Rugby League’s Intrust Super Premiership,” Morrison said from Suva.

“It’s been a dream of Petero’s (Civoniceva) and many others to field a Fijian team in one of our most beloved competitions.

“I will be tuning in to watch… especially when they play the Newtown Jets.”

The island nation is renowned for producing athletically-gifted rugby league players, the likes of Semi Radradra, Suliasi Vunivalu, Akuila Uate and Marika Koroibete have set the game alight in recent years.

But the one thing missing has been a direct pathway for talented youngsters.

Clubs can only take a risk on a limited number of local kids because of visa costs and other expenses, so a Fiji-based team in one of the NRL’s second tier competitions would open a gateway to the largely untapped potential throughout the Pacific.

The Fiji bid — led by one of the game’s greats Petero Civoniceva — aimed for inclusion this year but fell just short.

But they are kicking the door down now, and with the heavyweight backing from Morrison and the Coalition look assured of a place in next year’s competition.

They’ll be looking to make an immediate impact in the same way the Papua New Guinea Hunters did when admitted to the Queensland Cup in 2014.

The Hunters have made the finals every year, and won their inaugural premiership in 2017.

They now have the backing of the NSW Labor Party, which last year pledged to help ensure the Hunters are granted an NRL licence if they come to power.

The ALP is looking beyond rugby league at foreign policy initiative but it’s also crucial for the game’s continued growth.

As is Fiji’s continued rise, and while a team in the NRL is the long-term objective, a start in the NSW Cup is a huge step in the right direction.

The Pacific Islands are also set to host trial matches in February 2020, 2021 and 2022.

“We thank the Prime Minister, and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, for generously supporting and raising the profile of the lasting impact Rugby League is making for women, children and men throughout the Pacific,” NRL head of government and community relations, Jaymes Boland-Rudder said.

“The NRL trial matches, alongside the assistance provided towards funding the proposed Fijian-based team in the NSWRL’s Intrust Super Premiership, will have a profound impact in inspiring our proud and passionate Pacific neighbours and their communities.”