Wellington (AFP) – New Zealand's Super 15 coaches are pushing for a team of Pacific island players to be included in the southern hemisphere competition when it expands in 2016, a report said Wednesday.
The team, based in Auckland, would be part of an 18-club competition under a proposal from the head coaches of New Zealand's five existing Super Rugby teams, the New Zealand Herald reported.
It said the competition would also include a Japanese team and South Africa's Southern Kings and Golden Lions, who currently compete in an end-of-season play-off for a Super Rugby berth.
The Herald said Argentina would not have a team in the proposed competition but clubs would be allowed to sign Argentine players.
The proposal would be a major boost for Pacific nations such as Samoa, Fiji and Tonga, which struggle to retain players because of poor infrastructure and lack of meaningful competition.
Basing the team in Auckland would provide a ready-made player pool and fan base, due to the city's large Pacific population, the report said.
The SANZAR countries -- South Africa, New Zealand and Australia -- are looking to expand the Super 15 tournament when the current broadcast deal expires at the end of 2015.
The move is being driven by South Africa's insistence that it field six teams, rather than the current five entered by all three countries.