PLAYERS from Pacific Island nations are clinging to false hope of playing for Australia and New Zealand and hurting the chances of smaller countries at this year’s World Cup.

That’s the view of Tonga Rugby chief Epeli Taione, who shared his concerns over the future of international rugby at the recent Oceania Rugby AGM in Sydney.

Taione told Radio New Zealand that the refusal of some European clubs to release top Pacific Islander talent for the World Cup, as well as the false hope held by other players of playing for top nations, would hurt Tonga in the long term.

“The fact that we’re going to the World Cup and some of our best players are not part of it and it’s quite sad. It’s not really a reflection on what the World Cup should be.

“Due respect to New Zealand: they’ve done their work — and Australia — to see Tongans sitting there watching the World Cup.

“Even worse, they [will]probably play one test and they never ever going to play for New Zealand and here were are hamstring our way to the World Cup and limping out of it, which is quite a sad situation for world rugby.

“I think really they should take a good look at themselves and stop protecting themselves alone and looking after themselves and start to consider other smaller nations”.