New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that Pacific Island team Moana Pasifika has been granted an unconditional license for the 2022 season.
In April both Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua were handed conditional license in a bid to be part of the next year competition and now Pasifika's conditions of the licence removed after the club meeting the financial obligations.
NZR CEO Mark Robinson believes Pasifika's unconditional license is a step in right direction to expand the game.
“Moana Pasifika can now formalise some key agreements with coaches, players and partners as they work toward taking the field alongside our Super Rugby clubs in next year’s professional competition,” Robinson said in a statement.
“A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes and it will be exciting for everyone to watch developments in the coming weeks and months.”
Moana Pasifika interim chief executive Pelenato Sakalia was delighted with the news.
“We always anticipated it would take some time to formalise the arrangements and conditions we needed to progress, but we are now in a position to move forward again.
"Today’s announcement will no doubt generate another wave of excitement and enthusiasm about Moana Pasifika".
Robinson also revealed that the Drua were also progressing well but the Covid-19 situation has pushed them behind in the final steps.
Despite the setback Fiji Rugby Union chief executive John O’Connor is confident of getting the approval ahead of the next year's competition.
“We are encouraged by the progress we are making toward gaining an unconditional licence to compete in next year’s competition,”he said.
“Covid-19 has presented some obvious challenges, but we are confident we will be in a position to join Moana Pasifika in entering the final phase of planning for 2022 and beyond.”