Samoa want to build on best RLWC campaign

Samoa's Rugby League World Cup run ended as many expected, but their 30-10 defeat to Australia gave a glimpse into how bright their future might be.

A little over a month since they conceded 60 points against England they held their gloves up to the Kangaroos in the first final involving a tier-two nation.

It was only the fourth time they had played Australia in their 36-year history and they left Old Trafford on Saturday (Sunday AEDT) knowing they had pushed Mal Meninga's side close.

Among those who joined them in their dressing room were the three Samoa-eligible players in the Kangaroos squad; Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Jeremiah Nanai and Murray Taulagi, further illustrating how strong this side could be in the future.

"We have a dream of being able to achieve what Australia has done," said skipper Junior Paulo, who carried himself with incredible grace throughout the campaign.

"I don't know how to find a way but we need to lock these games in for the international game moving forward."

When Paulo and his team may take the field in a blue jersey again remains the great unknown.

For all that World Cup organisers have boasted about building on the legacy of this tournament, only one Test - England v France - has been locked in for next year.

Unlike cricket's Future Tour Programs, league has no set plan on how it might capitalise on the rise of Tonga and Samoa at the last two tournaments and the potential for Papua New Guinea and Fiji to join them in challenging the traditional big three of Australia, New Zealand and England.

The fear is that it will be a flash in the pan.

"I'm probably not the guy to suss that out," said five-eighth Jarome Luai.

"We've grown the game in a sense, if we want to keep growing we need to play more international games."

The NRL decided to scrap the Pacific Test this year and there is currently a wrangle with the International Rugby League (IRL) over who controls, and therefore profits, from the boom in Test football.

Part of the NRL's thinking is to create a month-long Test window at the end of each season, although whether players are keen to commit at the end of a gruelling club campaign remains to be seen.

The move is also strategic, given it protects players from potentially harming the golden goose that is State of Origin and depriving the inter-state contest of players with split allegiances.

This year 13 members of NSW's game one Origin squad, which included Luai and Paulo, qualified for a Pacific nation.

There has been a clamour for Samoa to be recognised as a tier-one nation by the IRL.

While that is based on off-field criteria, it would also place Luai, Paulo and the likes of Brian To'o in a difficult position to pick between state or country.

"Is the international game not as good as it has ever been? asked Samoa coach Matt Parish.

"If they want to change the rules they will make it the three teams again."