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Kangaroos to play Kiwis in Auckland but future of Tonga stars undecided

The Kangaroos will play the Kiwis in New Zealand for the first time in four years in an end-of-season triple-header featuring the Jillaroos and Kiwi Ferns.

The Test, which will also be preceded by a curtain raiser between the Junior Kangaroos and Junior Kiwis, has been scheduled for October 13 in Auckland.

Whether the New Zealanders regain the services of the players who represented Tonga at last year’s World Cup may depend on whether a proposed Test between Australia and the Mate Ma’a goes ahead

With the scrapping of the mid-season Test between Australian and New Zealand, the NZRL has agreed to an annual Test against England in the United States until 2020.

The likes of Jason Taumalolo, Sio Siua Taukeiaho, David Fusitu’a, Manu Ma’u and Solomone Kata are able to return to the Kiwis under RLIF eligibility rules but Tonga will be playing Samoa in the Pacific Test on the same weekend.

The Anzac fixture has been moved to the end of the season as Australian players will be involved in State of Origin on the stand-alone representative weekend.

The trans-Tasman Test will alternate annually between Australia and New Zealand.

Tongan forward Jason Taumalolo.
Tongan forward Jason Taumalolo. ©Scott Davis / NRL Photos

The decision will ensure more regular international games in New Zealand following the success of last year’s World Cup, which was the first time the Kiwis had played on home soil since the 2014 Four Nations.

The last time Australia played in New Zealand was the final of that tournament at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, which they won 22-18.

A rematch of the Women’s World Cup final between the Kiwi Ferns and the Jillaroos will feature on the Anzac Test program, together with the Junior Kiwis taking on the Junior Kangaroos.

The Kiwis will then travel to Europe for a three-Test series against England and a one-off Test in France.

Australian officials are considering an end-of-season Test against Tonga, with Auckland a possible venue, along with Qatar and Hawaii.

Tonga will play Samoa at Campbelltown Stadium on Saturday, June 23, along with a Test between Papua New Guinea and Lebanon also confirmed as part of a double-header.

Fiji do not have any Tests scheduled and their World Cup players are threatening to stand down until a dispute with the FNRL over payments from the tournament is resolved.

Bati captain Kevin Naiqama said last week that the players had been promised they would receive 100 per cent of the prizemoney, worth $125,000, for qualifying for the semi-finals.

However, they were still waiting three months later for the FNRL to pay and had also considered boycotting an appearance before the Fijian High Commission in Canberra over ongoing delays in the payment of their $35 daily allowance provided by the tournament.

2018 International Schedule

  • Saturday 23 June 2018; NZ v England; Denver
  • Saturday 23 June 2018; Tonga v Samoa; Sydney
  • Saturday 23 June 2018; PNG v Lebanon; Sydney
  • Saturday 13 October 2018; NZ v Australia; Auckland
  • Saturday 27 October 2018; England v NZ; Hull
  • Saturday 3 November 2018; England v NZ; Liverpool
  • Sunday 11 November 2018; England v NZ; Leeds
  • Saturday 17 November 2018; France v NZ; venue TBC 
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