Māori Rugby League has been dealt a massive blow. The NRL has pulled the national Māori league side from the proposed Pacific tests for 2018.

The Māori team was supposed to play Fiji in June in the Pacific Cup, a NRL window reserved for tests.

But Te Karere understands the Māori team have been pulled from the competition and John Devonshire, the head of NZMRL (New Zealand Māori Rugby League) is bitterly disappointed.

“Yeah, it’s really disappointing. The opportunities don't come along all of the time. So this was one that we took with two hands. We worked very hard and diligently to make it and to see it be withdrawn is, like I say, very disappointing.”

The NRL couldn’t be reached for comment, but in an email sent to Te Karere from an NRL official it states:

“The collective response from the Pacific nations regarding who would be pitted up against the Māori and unfortunately the opportunity to improve the international standings holds more importance for them at this stage.”

The NRL has stated the Māori All Stars team could potentially take on an Indigenous All Stars team in a new fixture at the start of 2019.

But Devonshire says Māori Rugby League will fight to try to get a Māori team playing in next year's Pacific Test.

“We won't go away; we will keep putting ourselves out there and offer up the chance to play in the Pacific series. We don't mind who we play.”

While Pacific teams have reached new heights with the success of the World Cup, it seems as though the Māori Rugby League has been left behind.