Hopes of a mid-year test between the Kiwis and Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium have been dashed, despite the impending trans-Tasman travel bubble.
NZ Rugby League had hoped to host a test match during the NRL State of Origin period in June, with a week-long camp in Auckland in the lead-up to the game, but this has now been ruled out.
“The cause for concern is the traffic light approach trans-Tasman bubble, which leaves us with a degree of uncertainty,” NZRL chairman Greg Peters tells Newshub.
“It’s too much of a risk. We’ll look to plan for something far more certain at the back end of the year.
“Certainly we would have sold it out. When we do get the opportunity (to play), I’m confident that will happen, because everyone’s been starved of international football.”
The game would have been the Kiwis’ first outing since October-November 2019, when they played Great Britain Lions in a three-test series.
That fixture has been deemed too risky, with the Government’s ‘flyer-beware policy’ and the possibility the borders could shut at a moment’s notice, stranding players and staff in New Zealand, and cut off from their NRL sides.
But with the border soon to open, NZRL has told Newshub at least one test may be played here against Tonga in October, with hopes to also play the Kangaroos in Australia.
“Ideally we’d like to be playing in New Zealand in that time period against Tonga,” Peters says.
“We have the potential to play Australia, both Kiwis and Kiwi Ferns, which we haven’t been able to play for two years.
“The potential to play that match (Tonga) is a lot stronger, in fact you’d almost say certain.”
The Kiwi Ferns may play at least one game around the same time.
Those fixtures would act as ideal warm-up games for the Rugby League World Cup, scheduled for England in November.