Australia keen on playing midweek games on 2020 tour of England

Drew Darbyshire

Australia coach Mal Meninga could return to St Helens with his Kangaroos on their tour in 2020.

The Kangaroos boss – who played for Saints between 1984-85 – has held talks with England coach Wayne Bennett about bringing his side to St Helens for a midweek game in the middle of a three-match Test tour next year.

Official details have yet to be confirmed though.

Speaking at a Great Britain press conference at the Totally Wicked Stadium on Tuesday, Bennett said: “I’m not disappointed to not be playing Australia this year.

“New Zealand are a quality team and Tonga are a quality team, so we will have our hands full.

“Australia will be over next year. I was talking to Mal the other day and he is keen to come over here and play some midweek games and revisit the Kangaroos tradition rather than playing just three games, so I think it’s pretty exciting stuff.

“It’ll be great for England, with the World Cup here the year after. We don’t have to play Australia at the moment, we know where we are going and we are going in the right direction.”

It seems Meninga has a soft spot for his old club St Helens, and his Kangaroos could also come up against the England Knights in a midweek game.

Bennett added: “Mal played here a number of times at St Helens.

“He said he talked to some of the owners here about the possibility of playing games here next year against the Knights as well, which would be great for them.

“There would only be two or three midweek games and that’s all you need for it to be what it used to be like.

“With midweek games, we would pick more than 24 players and it would be good for the young players to get the opportunity in the squad so when their turn comes after 12 months, two years or three years – they are better prepared for that level of competition.

“I’m optimistic that a bigger tour can happen. We have such a great brand with Great Britain and Australia. It would be great next year if Mal comes with the Kangaroos and we play some midweek matches.”

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