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DCE keen to be involved in Kangaroos-All Blacks hybrid match

Kangaroos vice-captain Daly Cherry-Evans has thrown his support behind a proposal for the world champions to play the All Blacks in a hybrid match at the end of the season.

Australian coach Mal Meninga and New Zealand Rugby CEO Mark Robinson have confirmed that a proposal for the cross-code clash was being considered and Cherry-Evans said players would be keen to be involved.

If the match goes ahead, it could be played on December 5 after State of Origin and rugby union's Bledisloe Cup between the All Blacks and Wallabies.

"Anything like that where there is an opportunity to grow the game of rugby league, in particular in a time like now, I think is a great idea," Cherry-Evans said.

"You ask any player that is looking to play for Australia, it doesn't matter if it is in late November or early December, we are going to put our hands up.

"I have always maintained that I would love to play rep football for as long as I am up to it. If my form provides to be there I would love to play something like that. It would be unreal.

"It would be great to look back on and experience something like that. I have got absolutely no idea how it would work but it sounds fun so I would be up for it."

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The concept of the Kangaroos playing either the All Blacks or Wallabies has been on the table for more than a decade, with former Balmain, Wests, Norths and Penrith forward Phil Franks putting forward numerous proposals.

His company Hybrid Rugby was behind the most recent bid in 2017, with $50 million reportedly offered for the Kangaroos and All Blacks to play in Japan after the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Former Canberra Raiders and New Zealand Test forward Dean Lonergan, who is now a boxing promoter, is understood to be driving the latest attempt to make the cross-code international a reality, but he faces numerous obstacles.

However, Robinson told a conference call with New Zealand media that the COVID-19 pandemic had forced all sports to be innovative and look for financial opportunities.

He said a match against the Kangaroos after the Bledisloe Cup series would only be considered if no other international rugby union can be staged due to the closure of international borders.

"The concept of the All Blacks playing the Kangaroos later in the year, we must be very clear that our priority is we want the All Blacks to play international rugby for the remainder of the year and we've talked about the uncertainty associated with that," Robinson said.

"But absolutely we've had the option put to us of this hybrid game with the Kangaroos. It's one of many different scenarios in a unique year like this that we're considering with looking to be innovative and having a focus on trying to consider revenue-generating ideas at this time give then financial climate we're in.

"Those discussions will be on-going. Like a lot of other ideas with the Kangaroos we'll be talking to lots of other people who are approaching us with ideas at this time.

"It's not new. The last time New Zealand Rugby had an approach was in 2017 and at that stage for various reasons it wasn't taken any further. We're interested in learning more, as we are a whole range of things that are being put to us at the moment.

"We'll work that through and go through the proper process in terms of making a decision if we feel it's got merit to take it further."

I have got absolutely no idea how it would work but it sounds fun so I would be up for it.

Daly Cherry-Evans

Australian players will be involved with the three-match Origin series on November 4, 11 and 18, while the All Blacks are scheduled to take on the Wallabies in a four-match Bledisloe Cup series.

With the cancellation of the first Kangaroo tour to England since 2003 at the end of the season, Meninga is determined to find an opponent for Australia to play.  

"This would take the Kangaroos to the world," he told News Corp. "There will be global recognition. I'm keen to make this happen. We want to play the All Blacks, hopefully, we can get the concept off the ground."

However, clubs are reluctant for the season to extend beyond the Origin series, while officials would prefer the Kangaroos to play New Zealand or Tonga if Australia were to face any opponent this year.

With the 2021 season is expected to commence in early March as usual and not finish until the World Cup final at Old Trafford on November 27, there are concerns about player workload.