Melbourne Storm is set to make history by playing the first NRL-sanctioned rugby league match in Fiji early next year at Churchill Park, Lautoka.
The match scheduled for Saturday 24 February against the Newcastle Knights will be the club’s second trial in preparation for the 2024 season.
Storm CEO Justin Rodski, along with Fiji Bati Captain Tui Kamikamica, announced the groundbreaking match in collaboration with Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji in Nadi today alongside Fiji’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism and Civil Aviation, Viliame Gavoka, Fiji Airways Chief Marketing and Customer Officer, Akuila Batiweti, and Tourism Fiji CEO, Brent Hill.
In a statement, the NRL club stated that the event doubles as a platform to engage with the Fijian community, promote rugby league, and provide a pathway for local talent.
“We are very excited about bringing the first ever NRL match to Fiji,” Rodski said. “The support of Fiji Airways and Tourism Fiji has helped to make this groundbreaking match become a reality and we can’t wait to give Fijians the opportunity to see their NRL stars up close and personal.”
“We already have a lot of Fijian talent within our game, and this serves as an incredible opportunity to not only grow the sport we love but help develop the next wave of talent and hopefully give more young men and women the chance to play NRL or NRLW.”
In the week leading to the match, community engagements are planned, and special initiatives include a designed training t-shirt and a match ball featuring traditional Fiji artwork.
Fiji Airways sees this as an opportunity to showcase sports tourism, and ticket packages starting at $10AUD are available for fans.
Fiji Airways Chief Marketing and Customer Officer, Akuila Batiweti, said: “Fiji Airways is delighted to partner in bringing an NRL-preseason game to our shores, reinforcing our commitment to local communities and showcasing Fiji’s potential in sports tourism. As sponsors of the Melbourne Storm, we invite fans to get on our flights to Fiji to witness top-tier rugby league.”
Gavoka, said: “There is no better time to leverage major events. We have done in the past and will continue to do so. Our aim is to position Fiji as a destination of choice for such events and to ensure the benefits are far reaching with long lasting impact beyond tourism numbers.”
Hill, echoed the minister’s sentiment: “This historic NRL clash aligns with our strategic efforts to showcase Fiji’s versatility and unique offerings. We believe this event will not only captivate sports enthusiasts but will also spotlight Fiji as a destination that seamlessly blends adventure and relaxation.”
The announcement comes on the heels of Fiji Airways’ linking up as a premium partner of the club on October 24.
Source: Fiji Government