Denver Test appears certain to go ahead
The Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) has welcomed confirmation that the June 23 Test in Denver between New Zealand and England remained on track after an historic meeting of all stakeholders on the Gold Coast this week.
RLIF chairman John Grant was invited to attend the NRL CEO's meeting, along with representatives of the NZRL and England's Rugby Football League, to discuss with clubs and the RLPA concerns about the flight time and recovery process for players in the Test.
The RLPA is still working through some issues with the countries but there is an acceptance that the Test will go ahead after the NZRL outlined details of the insurance coverage and medical processes for Kiwis players.
Grant said all parties involved in the sanctioning for the Test acknowledged it had been a challenging process but there was widespread support for international football.
''The opportunity afforded NZRL, RFL and the RLIF to meet directly with the RLPA, the NRL and the NRL clubs at this week's CEO's meeting, apart from being a first of its kind, allowed all parties to put their best foot forward in support of international rugby league,'' Grant said in a statement.
The NZRL and RFL have committed to a three-year deal to play an annual Test at Mile High Stadium and Grant said the RLIF would work with member nations and player representatives to review and improve the sanctioning process.
''With the ever-changing broadcast rights landscape, more international matches will grow the number of participants and our audience worldwide and consequently increase revenue to the NRL and Super League from their domestic rights,'' Grant said.
''Growing this revenue line is an opportunity the clubs now clearly see and the Federation's job is to ensure transparency of both a long-range international schedule and the process by which matches are sanctioned. This is at the top of our 'to do' list.''
The Test has been scheduled for the stand-alone representative weekend, which also features the Women's State of Origin match, the Pacific Test between Samoa and Tonga and Origin II.
England coach Wayne Bennett told reporters in Auckland ahead of Brisbane's match against the Warriors that the Denver Test would boost the international game.
''Everyone else is off for Origin, there are other internationals going on, so why can't England and New Zealand play in some part of the world,'' Bennett said.
''We don't have the opportunity to play Origin and we have to take these opportunities when they come.
''Australia has a huge advantage, and everyone wants us to be competitive and we won't be competitive unless we play these kind of games.
''There isn't one player who doesn't want to be on that plane. The players have the right to play in these games.
''It is pretty unique to be over in Denver and play a game there. If I were a player, I'd want to take part as well.''