NRL to propose new Oceania Cup featuring Kiwis, Mate Ma'a Tonga, Toa Samoa and Fiji Bati instead of future US Tests




The NRL are proposing an overhaul of the international calendar which will include the return of the first Kangaroos Tour of Great Britain since 2003 next year and the introduction of more Pacific Tests.

New Zealand Kiwis perform the haka.
New Zealand v England in a Denver Test Saturday June 23, 2018 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. The TEST will be the first time the two rugby powerhouses will play each other on American soil. photos by Evan Semón Photography

New Zealand Kiwis perform the haka against England in Denver.

Source: Photosport

As part of a schedule revealed by the NRL and Australian Rugby League Commission on Thursday, there will be more opportunities for Test matches in both June and at the end of the season between 2019 and 2022.

Crucially, the proposed annual Denver Test between England and New Zealand is not included with the Kiwis playing Pacific nations during the representative round for the next two seasons.

The plan will be introduced to the Rugby League International Federation in Singapore later this month, with the idea to grow the global game off the back of last year's World Cup success.

"Until now there has not been enough structure around the international game and the game has missed some real opportunities to showcase rugby league outside of Australia," ARLC chairman Peter Beattie said.

"We are presenting a four-year calendar which can be repeated and replicated in future cycles to give the international game more certainty and exposure.

"Those tournaments and events will be book-ended by a World Cup every four years."

Included in the plan are a new Oceania Cup to be played during next year's representative round and at the end of the season between New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

Those matches will be played in both western Sydney and New Zealand.

Two separate Four Nations tournaments will also be played in 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa to play an Oceania Polynesian competition and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to feature in a European-based version.

"A key to this proposal is we are giving emerging nations a chance to become genuine competitors with tier-one nations," Beattie said.

"But we will do it by confining tournaments to fixed windows to ensure the wellbeing of our players."

Australia will continue to play New Zealand annually while work has began to kick off a new international Nines tournament at the end of next year.

Meanwhile, the ARLC said negotiations were ongoing for an end-of-year Test between Australia and Tonga in 2018, as well as the planned round zero to kick off next year's NRL season in the United States.

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