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October 18: Kiwis stun Aussies; Lions' Aussie pioneer

On this day in rugby league history, the first Australian-born Great Britain player, Tonga learns a lesson from the Kiwis, and NRL stars lend a hand in Rwanda.

2001   

Bradford fullback Michael Withers became the first Australian-born player to be selected for Great Britain. He would start a trend, with the 2019 Great Britain squad including Australian-born trio Blake Austin, Lachlan Coote and Jackson Hastings.

2003   

Australia slumped to a 30-16 loss to New Zealand at Auckland's North Harbour Stadium – their first loss the Kiwis this century. "It's a nice wake-up call to remind us we're on a tough little excursion," said prop Shane Webcke after the defeat.

2008   

New Zealand warmed up for the World Cup with a 56-8 win over Tonga in a Test match in Auckland. Nine years later Tonga would go on to beat New Zealand 29-22 at the 2017 World Cup, finishing above the Kiwis in group B on the way to a semi-final finish.

2009   

Parramatta grand final stars Joel Reddy, Tim Mannah, Joe Galuvao, Matt Keating, new Eels recruit Justin Poore and Penrith's Joseph Paulo flew to the African nation of Rwanda to help victims of the country's 1994 genocide.

Eels prop Tim Mannah in action in the 2009 grand final.
Eels prop Tim Mannah in action in the 2009 grand final. ©NRL Photos

This article contains information from the official records of NRL historian David Middleton.