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NZRL get the go ahead for reinvigorated international rugby league proposal

New Zealand is set to get a massive injection of international rugby league matches in 2019, with the Great Britain Rugby League Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, and the inaugural Oceania Cup getting the green light.

The first match of the Oceania Cup has the New Zealand Kiwis going head-to-head with Mate Ma’a Tonga at Mt Smart in the re-match that everyone has been waiting for. The Kiwi Ferns will also take on a Pacific Island team on the same night. This mid-season clash is one of three Tests the Kiwis will play in New Zealand, with the end-of-season Test against the Kangaroos being played in Wollongong.

The inaugural Oceania Cup will be made up of Pool A - comprising New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga – and Pool B - made up of Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

Organisers also announced that the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will be in action in the southern hemisphere for the first time in 13 years, playing two Test matches against New Zealand (2 November at Eden Park and 9 November at Christchurch Stadium) and Tests against Tonga and Papua New Guinea.

New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters said he was “excited to see all the hard work behind the scenes come into fruition with more international rugby league content locked in for our country and our fans.”

“We could not be doing this without the support of New Zealand Government, the host cities and NZRL’s commercial partners so I’m incredibly grateful to all of them for making this possible.”

“Our rugby league community in New Zealand has been hoping for more international and Kiwis fixtures in our back yard for a while now so I’m pleased we’re able to deliver on this for them,”

“New Zealand Rugby League is also delighted to be bringing such an event to New Zealand that will also benefit the teams throughout the Pacific.”

RLIF Southern Hemisphere General Manager Jeremy Edwards was delighted to announce such a packed schedule.

"This international program is both exciting and ground-breaking and it is great to see the Great Britain Rugby League Lions following in the historic footprints of previous tours.”
"The Oceania Cup is an important step in creating a full international calendar that fans, players and commercial partners can enjoy.”

"It has taken a huge amount of work to deliver this and I commend the efforts of all those who have brought us to this point. It is a great platform for the international game in the Asia Pacific Region."
Rugby League Players' Association (RLPA) Chief Executive Officer Ian Prendergast says the Oceania Cup and Great Britain Rugby League Lions are fantastic additions to the International Rugby League calendar.

“It is fantastic that there will be significant international content in 2019, including new properties in the Nines and the Oceania Cup, as well as the Great Britain Rugby League Lions touring down under.”

“It reflects the enhanced profile, interest and competitiveness of International Rugby League. In particular, the Oceania Cup provides a tremendous new platform for the Pacific nations to compete on the world stage.”

“We have enjoyed working through the process with the RLIF and the nations to establish the schedule for 2019 and look forward to continuing these discussions when planning for future matches takes place.”

“The international game presents exciting opportunities for our members and through continued collaboration we look forward to further showcasing the wonderful rugby league talent we have in the game.”

Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer said the return of the Great Britain Rugby League Lions was highly-anticipated.

“The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time so this is an exciting announcement for us.”

“It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.”

“There is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt, it’s great for the game to have it back and we’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition.”

Note: Event organisers are grateful for the support for New Zealand government through the Major Events Development Fund, ATEED, H3 and ChristchurchNZ.

2019 Kiwis fixtures:

Saturday, 22 June – Kiwis v Mate Ma’a Tonga – Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand
Friday, 25 October – Kiwis v Kangaroos – WIN Stadium, Wollongong, New Zealand
Saturday, 2 November – Kiwis v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand
Saturday, 9 November – Kiwis v Great Britain Rugby League Lions – Christchurch Stadium, Christchurch, New Zealand
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Be interested to know what the Tongans are looking at paywise.

No money no play I'd say, fair play or roll out the Otara Scorpion Mangere east Otahuhu Tongan team.
Was going to say they should have the Tonga vs Australia game on last to make more money from alcohol sales but judging by how stadiums are run these days they'll stop selling beer halfway through the Fiji vs Samoa game.
oh shit? is that really when its scheduled? quick look says RWC final is at 10pm NZST so it's fine for the TV viewer, but yeah, if they are smart they'll put the Tonga game on last (those fans will stick around) or there will be droves of people leaving early.
Yeah kiwis are the middle game so it works that way.

Either way if nz are in the union final that will massively affect attendance at Eden park aye.


Lot of discussion on radio sport around the triple header 2nd November.

Same night as the Union world cup final.

Might not get many Kiwi fans there.
How dumb is that? This is as bad as having a test in Denver.

Mind you the RWC will be way less popular outside of NZ but every man and his dog here will be watching the RWC unless the All Blacks are out of it by then.

They had better cross their fingers or do a susy the maid job in the semis. Not as crazy as it sounds because Graham Henry almost got Piri Weepu out with food poisoning before the 2011 final.


Yeah kiwis are the middle game so it works that way.

Either way if nz are in the union final that will massively affect attendance at Eden park aye.

Yeah there’s no two ways about it, even union deniers like yourself Dave will be asked what your plans are for watching the game, “you mean the kiwis?” 😑

They'll be a sea of red and not much else

Billy Teets James

With Rapana injured , Dallin Watene-Zelezniak in mud form.
JWH hot & cold form for the Kiwis. I'd like to see a mix of established and new comers.
Young brown is back this weekend. Could be a bolter a halves position. Id have Luke there to help out brown with general play duties. And let Kodi roam.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C)
Patrick Herbert
Joey Manu
Esan Marsters
Ken Maumalo
Dylan Brown
Martin Taupau
Isaac Luke
Jesse Bromwich
Tohu Harris
Isaac Liu
Briton Nikora

Thomas Mikaele
Nelson Asofa Solomona
Sitili Tupouniua
Brandon Smith
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Injuries permitting, Madge should have a healthy pool of players to pick from for the mid year test against Tonga. Good depth in most positions too.

Here's my team, I have tried to factor in who has done the job for us in the recent past as well as who is currently in form.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (C)
Ken Maumalo
Esan Marsters
Joseph Manu
Jahrome Hughes

Shaun Johnson
Kodi Nikorima

Martin Taupau
Brandon Smith
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
Briton Nikora
Tohu Harris
James Fisher-Harris

Manase Fainu
Leeson Ah Mau
Nelson Asofa-Solomona
Kenny Bromwich

Isaiah Papali'i
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