Major League Rugby receives official Hawai'i bid

An expansion bid from Kanaloa Hawai'i has officially been submitted to Major Rugby League officials with five former All Blacks players said to be backing the team.

A slot in the growing American competition opened up after Colorado Raptors pulled out after three seasons, and Kanaloa Hawai'i could move into MLR almost immediately providing the club meets the league's expansion terms.

These terms were not listed In an official report from MLR, but an expansion fee will be required from the island club for the bid to be recognized.

Team manager Cam Kilgour, who had been rumoured to be joining the latest MLR expansion team, LA Giltinis, told RugbyPass that the lack of a professional sports team in Hawai'i meant there was room for growth in the area.

"Hawai'i has got huge talent, huge potential," Kilgour said.

"It's a massive island for growth and has no professional sports team. So we thought, look, let's try to see if we can connect with other Hawaiians on the island and see if we can move this a lot quicker."

The team will be based in Honolulu, the capital of Hawai'i, and will be one of the most isolated teams in the competition, geographically, but Kilgour said the geographical pitfalls had already been managed.

"That was the key issue that we had to overcome; making sure there was no additional cost to any of the other MLR franchises," he said.

"We've had great support from hotels and a local Hawaiian airline. We have said to MLR that we would cover all that."

Kilgour, who has previous experience with the South Canterbury Heartland Championship side in New Zealand, has approached former All Blacks assistant coach Mick Byrne to take over as head coach, while former All Blacks back Tamati Ellison will also reportedly be part of the coaching team.

The side's connection with the All Blacks continues with former players Anthony Tuitavake, Ben Atiga, Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko and John Afoa all listed as founders of the club, linking with friends and business associates Matt Atiga, Tracy Atiga and Kilgour to get it off the ground.

If the Kanaloa bid is successful, the side will join the MLR as early as 2021.