League Oceania Cup 'exactly what is needed' - Tonga coach

Tonga rugby league coach Kristian Woolf says the newly announced Oceania Cup is exactly what the international game needed.

Mate Ma'a Tonga will go head to head with Australia and New Zealand next year in the competition's top tier, with Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea contesting the other group.

Kristian Woolf said a guaranteed slate of top level test matches gives the Pacific Island teams certainty and something to look forward to.

"The organisation and having something that's planned and something that's to plan for in the future is a real positive," he said.

"But also the games that have been put in place and what sort of opportunity and occasion they're going to create is a real big one as well so we're very happy with what's been put forward at the moment and we certainly support it."

Kristian Woolf said previously Tonga was always wondering when their next test match would be so to have a long-term programme is a game-changer both on and off the field.

"We've never had a format where we can look at future games and know what's locked in for us," he said.

"If over the next couple of years if we've got an international calendar that's mapped out, it says exactly who we're playing and a general idea of where and when those games are going to be that means that we've actually got something to sell and something that's going to help us be financially viable going forward.

Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea will have the chance to dine at the Oceania Cup's top table in future years, with the highest placed finisher to be promoted to the top tier in 2020.