Pacific Cups, British tour in NRL's eyes

Scott Bailey
Australia beat England in the final of the Rugby League World Cup in Brisbane in December 2017

Regular Kangaroos tours to Great Britain and better structured Oceania Cups for Pacific nations will form part of proposed overhaul of international rugby league put forward by the NRL.

Ahead of a meeting with the Rugby League International Federation in Singapore later this month, the NRL laid bare its plans for the global game on Thursday off the back of last year's World Cup success.

Under the plan, Australia would tour Great Britain at the end of next year - the first Kangaroos trip of its time since 2003 - and could include mid-week matches against club and regional sides.

The NRL is then hopeful the plan could then be replicated in each four-year cycle that follows, as well as an end-of-year Lions tour to Australia in that time frame.

Next year's Pacific Tests would also form part of a three-round tournament between New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga with the first weekend played in June's representative round and the rest in the post-season.

Crucially it means the annual Denver Test cannot fit into the calendar if approved, given New Zealand will have scheduling commitments as part of that and other competitions that follow. .

"A one-off Test that goes nowhere, you think in the sense of that," ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie said.

"That was the problem with Denver.

"You've got to think of something that fits into a competition. You've got to win something."

Two separate Four Nations tournaments would also be played in 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa to play an Oceania Polynesian competition and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea to feature in a European-based version.

The following year, 2021, is a World Cup year before New Zealand host England in 2022 and Australia play the winner of a tournament between Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Samoa and Fiji.

"A key to this proposal is we are giving emerging nations a chance to become genuine competitors with tier-one nations," Beattie said.

This is about getting a State of Origin spirit amongst our new neighbours. Making sure we expand the game with the passion and enthusiasm we had at the World Cup."

Plans are also afoot for a new international Nines tournament at the end of next year at Parramatta, however that is yet to be confirmed.

Meanwhile, the ARLC said negotiations were ongoing for an end-of-year Test between Australia and Tonga in 2018, as well as the planned round zero to kick off next year's NRL season in the United States.

"Currently we've got Australia playing NZ at the end of the year, but there is a strong appetite from a range of parties about Australia playing Tonga," NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said.

"We're in discussions with a number of different promoters to do that."