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Australia celebrate a try against Tonga.

Super League clubs have expressed interest in playing matches against Australia for the first time in 26 years during next year's Kangaroos tour.

Australian coach Mal Meninga has been the driving force behind the revival of the concept and is keen for his squad to experience the atmosphere of playing against the likes of Wigan, St Helens and Leeds just as he did during his record four Kangaroo tours in 1982, 1986, 1990 and 1994.

Wigan and newly promoted Toronto Wolfpack have confirmed their interest, along with St Helens, where Meninga is a legendary figure, while Leeds are also thought to be keen.

The Wolfpack would be prepared to play in England and believe a match against the Kangaroos would generate significant interest for the code in North America, particularly if they are successful in signing Sonny Bill Williams.

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Meninga's farewell Kangaroo tour, his second as captain, was the last time Australia played against English clubs.

The tradition was abandoned during the Super League war when the game in Britain switched from winter to summer play.

The most recent Kangaroo tour in 2003 featured matches against France, England A and Wales but no club fixtures.

Details of Australia's three-Test series against England at the end of next season are set to be announced in coming days as part of the 2020 international calendar, which will also include an end-of-season Test against New Zealand.

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The Kiwis are scheduled to play Oceania Cup Tests against Tonga and the winner of Pool B – likely to be Fiji – while they are also reportedly in line to meet Samoa and Papua New Guinea at the end of next season.

However, it is understood the impending IRL announcement will not include mid-week matches or other fixtures on the Kangaroos tour as they are yet to be confirmed.

Meninga is determined that the tour involve matches in between the Tests and wants to take a big squad comprising most of the players who played against the Kiwis and Tonga, as well as those in the Junior Kangaroos team.

While matches against France, Ireland, Scotland and Wales are a possibility, there is likely to be far greater interest – and financial benefit – from playing Super League clubs.

The Kangaroos are a major drawcard in England and on the 1994 tour they attracted crowds of 20,057 against Wigan, 18,581 against Leeds and 13,911 against St Helens.

Wigan CEO Kris Radlinski has confirmed his club's interest in hosting Australia, with former Great Britain and England international telling "Wigan would love to play the Kangaroos. One of the highlights of my youth was watching Wigan play the 'Invincibles' [as the touring Australian team was known] in 1982 and 1986".

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Kangaroos assistant coach Adrian Lam is in charge of Wigan and Radlinski said he would enjoy the opportunity to coach against Meninga at DW Stadium

St Helens would also welcome the opportunity to host the return of Meninga to the club for whom he scored 28 tries in 31 matches during their 1984-85 Championship season, with his Australian team.

"Like every club we would love to play the Kangaroos," Saints CEO Mike Rush said. "Given we are the current Super League champions we would feel justified in being given the opportunity to play them on their tour next year if it indeed went ahead.

"Of course, there would naturally be logistical points to determine and a lot of planning between all parties to make this happen and this planning process needs to happen as soon as possible so that clubs, players and the fans can all make the necessary arrangements."

It is believed Leeds would be keen to celebrate the 130th year of their home ground, Emerald Headingley, which recently underwent a £45m redevelopment, with a match against the Kangaroos after having hosted New Zealand in 2015.

Leeds marked the 125th anniversary of Headingley with a match against the Kiwis two weeks after the 2015 Super League grand final that drew a crowd of 20,158.

Other clubs are certain to be interested, including the Wolfpack, who have played home games in England as well as Toronto during their three-year campaign to win promotion from the third-tier League One to Super League.

"Absolutely there would be interest on our part," Wolfpack commercial director Martin Vickers said. "Imagine what a boost that would be to our plans in growing the game back in North America and globally.

Jack Wighton scores against Tonga.
Jack Wighton scores against Tonga. ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

"A mid-week full house in potentially a UK expansion area such as Newcastle, Bristol or London, broadcast to a global TV audience would make such a statement about the development of the game internationally."

Toronto officials are increasingly confident of signing Williams on a massive two-year deal, which Wolfpack chairman Bob Hunter insists isn't worth as much as the $9 million figure that has been mentioned but reportedly includes equity in the club.

Wolfpack coach Brian McDermott met with Williams in Japan after watching him play for the All Blacks in their Rugby World Cup semi-final loss to England.

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