Kangaroos exploring historic Test in Qatar

EXCLUSIVE

Australian coach Mal Meninga is intent on expanding the footprint of rugby league and is considering an expression of interest to host an end-of-season Test in Qatar in October.

Meninga is exploring the possibility of a charity match against Tonga to raise money for the victims of Cyclone Gita, and the financial incentive to take a game to the Middle East could have a huge impact on the lives of those affected.

The Kangaroos are also scheduled to play a game against New Zealand in Auckland at the end of the year, however relocating the match as part of a series in Qatar could give the Kiwis the ideal warm-up match on their way to their tour of the United Kingdom.

Qatar, which will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, is constantly on the lookout to lure major sporting events to the country and have reached out about the possibility of hosting a rugby league fixture.

It's likely Doha would host the potential historic Test featuring Kangaroos stars Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis, with Khalifa International Stadium holding 40,000 fans.

The venue, which will also be used during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is where the Socceroos lost the 2011 Asian Cup final 1-0 to Japan.

The average high temperature in Doha during October is close to 35 degrees, with average lows dropping to less than 25 degrees.

The climate and conditions will be a strong consideration, however the players are often exposed to searing heat in the early rounds of the Telstra Premiership and also when playing international football in Papua New Guinea.

Australia coach Mal Meninga with Kangaroos players.
Australia coach Mal Meninga with Kangaroos players. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Meninga is a big believer of taking the game to uncharted territory and is also exploring alternative options.

An end-of-season Test against Tonga in Hawaii has already been floated, and the nine-hour flight time makes it far more convenient than the 16-hour trek required to Doha in Qatar.

Departing ARL Commission chairman John Grant is expected to be elected as the Rugby League International Federation chairman on Sunday.

He has a close relationship with Meninga and will play a pivotal role in securing the historic Test on Middle Eastern or American soil.

Meninga has the support of the players, who have shown a renewed sense of passion and commitment towards the Kangaroos jersey since his appointment as coach following Tim Sheens's reign.

Given the timing of the proposed Test, it's unlikely the NRL clubs will be as opposed to the idea as some have been towards the mid-season Test between New Zealand and England in Denver during the standalone Origin II weekend.

Housemates pass mumps test

The NRL could have been on the verge of a mumps outbreak among the players last week.

Sydney Roosters fullback James Tedesco lives with Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses and former Wests Tigers teammate Luke Brooks, and had to head back to his family's 240-hectare farm in Menangle to be quarantined.

Brooks and Moses had to be tested to ensure they didn't get infected.

New stadium will be popular

Meetings have begun between clubs and ANZ Stadium over relocation plans during construction periods forecast for the Olympic Stadium.

There are several clubs keen to explore the option of playing a number of games at the new western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs have benefited greatly from moving games to Sydney's west and are keen to expand their footprint by hosting games at the new venue set to open in time for next season.

The Wests Tigers have a long-term deal with ANZ Stadium that is likely to result in them shifting games to Parramatta during construction, however it remains to be seen how many games will remain at Leichhardt and Campbelltown.

The St George Illawarra Dragons and Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs are also exploring the option of playing matches at Parramatta.

The Penrith Panthers have no interest in playing out of Parramatta, hopeful of seeing through plans to build a new stadium in greater western Sydney in the future.

Lynne sets Dogs' minds at ease

Canterbury's players were recently addressed by new chairperson Lynne Anderson at their Belmore headquarters.

Anderson, with husband and former Bulldogs coach Chris by her side, assured the players the club was heading in the right direction and wanted them to continue what they have started to build under new coach Dean Pay.