Fijian Drua already dreaming of first Super Rugby title

The Fijian Drua are targeting a maiden Super Rugby title within five years after being confirmed as a "preferred partner" to join a revamped competition in 2022.

New Zealand Rugby announced on Friday it is working with the Auckland-based Moana Pasifika and the Fiji Rugby Union to "further explore the viability of Pasifika teams for 2022 and beyond."

The newcomers would join the existing five teams from New Zealand and five from Australia in a 12 team competition, provided key criteria is met.

Fiji Rugby CEO John O'Connor said it is a momentous day for Fiji Rugby with the dream of the Drua participating at a Super Rugby level on the verge of becoming reality.

"We submitted a comprehensive and compelling proposal to NZR in August this year, and our continued discussions and negotiations have now borne fruit. We have a lot of work to do with NZR and other national unions, but our potential entry is really exciting".

The Fiji Rugby Union still needs to raise significant capital to satisfy New Zealand Rugby's core entry criteria but said its planning can now progress in the knowledge their place in an expanded Super Rugby competition "is virtually assured".

O'Connor said the FRU has been in discussions with private investors for some time and is confident of securing the necessary funding through private equity and the support of World Rugby and the Fiji Government.

The Fijian Drua won the Australian National Rugby Championship in 2018, in only their second year in the competition, and O'Connor believes the franchise could achieve similar success in Super Rugby.

"Our goal is to win the competition within five years, and this now gives us the chance to not only attract many of our best players back from Europe to play at home, but also to keep our emerging talent at home on playing contracts that are fair and attractive," he said.

"The Fijian style of play and our fan support around the world will ensure that we make a big impact on the competition".

It's expected the Drua would be able to host at least five home games each year in the revamped Super competition, which would excite fans and create opportunities for local Fijian businesses.

"The Super Rugby games played here in Fiji between 2017 and 2019 have laid the foundation for showing our country is ready to host top level events, and now with a Fijian team set for entry for fans to follow, we expect strong support from both fans and commercial partners," O'Connor said.

"This is a golden opportunity for Fijian companies to gain exposure into Australia and New Zealand, and to not only associate with a team on the rise, but to have a financial stake as well. The Drua's success in the Australian Rugby Championship demonstrated our capacity to compete at a higher level, and we look forward to taking the field in early 2022".

FRU is also seeking investors willing to take equity shares in the venture, which will be operated from a separate company to that of the FRU.