Pacific lip service won't stop until rugby respects the Islands

Players who have finally been able to get on a plane and land in Japan will be experiencing somewhat of a sense of relief now that they are there, they are finally part of the Rugby World Cup.

All the build-up, talk and hype is almost completely behind them, and they will all be itching to play. All that pre-tournament carry-on can be a bit much, the players will just be wanting to hear the whistle blow and for the game to get underway.

That's what they will all be hanging out for. It's an exciting time, but once the competition starts and the tournament finds its rhythm, the players will start to settle down and can focus on the job at hand.

For the All Blacks, that first game against South Africa will be a test of how far they have come. The game they drew earlier in the season will be in the back of their minds. But there has been some steady improvement from the All Blacks, especially in the last two Tests against Australia and Tonga.

You talk about peaking in sports and peaking at the right time. You do find you come into form; the trick is to take the confidence that comes with and roll it into the next match.

I think the Test with South Africa will really set up the competition. Whoever wins that game will grow in confidence and kick on; but it will be a tough battle.

Some of the positives from the weekend were that the All Blacks certainly showed they could play at a high tempo and a high pace. They looked really sharp.

The biggest positive was that Tonga brought a rush defence. The All Blacks tested that defence by having their front line take on that defence, but then moved the ball further back through their second line to get room on the outside. When that happens there is a lot of real estate behind and it is very difficult for those defenders to turn and chase.

The value in that was most teams now have a rush defence and that is something the All Blacks are going to have to deal with during the World Cup. Tonga had no answer to the way the All Blacks took them on with that approach.

The All Blacks were able to make a statement. That was what Steve Hansen said ahead of the game and they would have got the attention of the rest of the rugby world as a result.

But apart from getting a bit of a blow out and taking some confidence in moving the ball so well, the flipside of the game was that Tonga were woeful. They looked unfit and they were no match at the breakdown. Because their fitness was so poor they didn't bother competing for the ball, which allowed the All Blacks to have an abundance of possession.

It just highlights how much fitness is everything in a World Cup year. Going into a campaign like a World Cup if you haven't done the hard yards you're going to struggle.

Tonga will have gone away licking their wounds but I wouldn't write them off completely. The All Blacks were smart in the way they played against them. They moved their big men around, running them ragged and all of a sudden they had nothing left.

The All Blacks' firepower was just too much, it was fantastic.

England, who play in Tonga's pool at the World Cup, should be careful against Tonga however; if Eddie Jones' side think they are going to walk over Tonga they're wrong, the Pacific Islanders won't be easybeats.

They need to be a bit cautious because, knowing England, they will try to take them on physically which would suit Tonga right down to the ground. They probably wanted the All Blacks to play them that way as well but the All Blacks played smart rugby.

The Tonga game did highlight how the rest of the world discusses and perceives Pacific Island rugby; the gap has got so big. There's been a lot of talk over the last 10 years about how the world can help the development of rugby in the islands. But it's been just that: Talk.

Every person who gets a new job comes out with a comment about how the islands need help but at the end of the day it is all bull----.

No one's been helping the islands at all. Unless they have their own revenue and play inside their own competition then nothing will change. That's the cold, hard facts.

The reality is that there are too many people in positions where they are more focused on the money than they are in developing the game in the Pacific. And that ain't going to change.

That attitude is right across the board, through World Rugby right down through SANZAAR. Every country has got to look after themselves before they look after anybody else. New Zealand's guilty of that too.

As much as anyone can say, 'hey we need to help them', it's almost like a working committee needs to be appointed separate from any other influences like World Rugby, SANZAAR or an independent country. That working group needs to be put together to work how best serve the Pacific Islands nations because so far all it has been is rhetoric. The same-old, same-old 'we must do something' but then never actually do anything.

On a side note, Hawaii was proposed as the central place where all three nations could work together and perhaps even build a Super Rugby team. Aloha Stadium in Honolulu had conversations with parties trying to talk to SANZAAR but SANZAAR came back and wanted the revenue from the United States. So it never happened, just another example of greed all over again.

And how do I know that? I was part of those Hawaii conversations.