The new-look Ausgrid Stadium in Newcastle will host an end-of-season Test between Australia and New Zealand on October 16 in an exciting prelude to the 2011 Four Nations tournament in the United Kingdom.
The Australian Rugby League and New Zealand Rugby League today confirmed the Newcastle Test, which will mark a new chapter in the oldest rivalry in Rugby League and showcase the strength of Trans-Tasman battles for the Bill Kelly Cup.
“The rivalry between Australia and New Zealand has never been stronger and a two-Test format will really showcase the prestige and excitement of international Rugby League,” ARL Chief Executive, Mr Geoff Carr, said today.
“Fans in the Hunter are renowned for their passionate support of Rugby League.
“We staged a match there in 2004 between Australia and New Zealand that was widely supported by local fans. It also introduced many Sydney fans to the beauty of the Hunter Region and this match will no doubt do the same.”
NZRL Chief Executive, Mr Jim Doyle, said a second Test between the two teams recognised the ever-growing popularity of international Rugby League.
“The matches between New Zealand and Australia in the past few years have been enthralling and there is a real demand from the public on both sides of the Tasman to see more of it,” Mr Doyle said.
“Rugby League in New Zealand has never been stronger and this will only continue to enhance the development of the game here.”
Knights captain and Kangaroos representative Kurt Gidley said having a Test in Newcastle is something every player at the club would want to be part of.
“The lure of being able to play a Test match in front of our home crowd in Newcastle is extra motivation for both myself and the rest of the Knights to set our goals high this season,” Gidley said.
Executive Chairman of Tinkler Sports Group, Mr Ken Edwards, said: “Hosting a prestigious Test between the Kangaroos and the Kiwis is a great reward for Rugby League fans in the region.
“This match will provide Newcastle and the Hunter Region with another great opportunity to showcase the region’s growing reputation for successfully hosting international events at the newly completed Ausgrid Stadium, which now has a capacity of 33,000.”
Existing Newcastle Knights members and new members signing up in the club's current membership campaign will be offered a special buying window before tickets go on sale to the general public.
Ticket on-sale dates will be confirmed in coming weeks.
The Test in Newcastle will be a prelude to the 2011 Four Nations Tournament in the United Kingdom and will not form part of that series.