5th March 2019, 11:35 | International
The itinerary for the first Great Britain Rugby League tour for more than a decade was confirmed in Auckland overnight – and it features Test Matches against New Zealand at Eden Park and a return to Christchurch; a first Test in Papua New Guinea in 23 years at the new Oil Search Stadium in Port Moresby; and first, an historic and mouthwatering clash with Tonga.
It will be the first ever Test between the Rugby League Lions and the Mate Ma’a – who stunned the Rugby League world with their progress to the semi finals of the 2017 World Cup, where they were beaten 20-18 in their first match against England in Auckland.
The GB versus Tonga match will be played on Saturday October 26 – two weeks after the Betfred Super League Grand Final - at the 25,000-capacity Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, south of Auckland.
The following Saturday, November 2, Wayne Bennett’s tourists will play the first of two Tests against the Kiwis, at Eden Park – part of a triple header which also features matches between Fiji and Samoa, and Australia versus Tonga, both in the new RLIF Oceania Cup.
CONFIRMED 🇳🇿🇹🇴🇵🇬— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) March 5, 2019
Here are the dates and venues of Great Britain RL Lions' four Tour games this autumn ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/wAdFJpmI19
Then it’s down to New Zealand’s South Island for the second Test against Michael Maguire’s Kiwis on November 9 in Christchurch, where Great Britain last played on their last trip to the southern hemisphere for the 2006 Tri-Nations Series. That game is part of a double-header with another Oceania Cup fixture this time between Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
The tour will be completed on November 16 when Great Britain face the Kumuls in Port Moresby, an experience which has been relished in the last two years by Wales and Ireland in the 2017 World Cup, and by England Knights last autumn. But it will be the first time a GB team have played in league-crazy PNG since 1996, and the first time in Moresby since 1990 – well before the construction of the new Oil Search Stadium.
The combination of the GB tour, the RLIF Oceania Cup and also the Downer Rugby League World Cup Nines in Sydney on the weekend of October 19-20, which will feature the England men’s and women’s teams, makes 2019 a bumper year for the international game.
🦁 GREAT BRITAIN ARE BACK— Rugby Football League (@TheRFL) March 5, 2019
We're so excited to be back and touring again this Autumn 🇳🇿🇹🇴🇵🇬 pic.twitter.com/vOOGb7H6mG
The Oceania Cup features two pools of three teams – a heavyweight trio of Australia, New Zealand and Tonga in Pool A, with Samoa, Fiji and PNG in Pool B.
The competition begins on June 22 when New Zealand face Tonga in an eagerly-anticipated match at Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium, while Campbelltown in Sydney’s Western Suburbs stages the opening match in Pool B between Samoa and PNG – in a double-header also giving the Cook Islands a chance to impress against Fiji.
Australia open their Oceania Cup campaign against the Kiwis in Wollongong on October 25 against the Kiwis – the night before Great Britain face the Tongans in Hamilton.
Great Britain tour – v Tonga (Hamilton, Oct 26), v New Zealand (Eden Park, Auckland, Nov 2), v New Zealand (Christchurch, Nov 9), v Papua New Guinea (Port Moresby, Nov 16).
RLIF Oceania Cup Pool A – New Zealand v Tonga (Mount Smart Stadium, Auckland, June 22); Australia v New Zealand (Wollongong, Oct 25), Tonga v Australia (Eden Park, Auckland, Nov 2).
RLIF Oceania Cup, Pool B – Samoa v PNG (Campbelltown, June 22); Samoa v Fiji (Eden Park, Auckland, Nov 2); Fiji v PNG (Christchurch, Nov 9)
For Official Tours with unique Rugby League Experiences please register at www.rugbyleaguetraveloffice.com or on 0131 556 3840