England to face New Zealand in 2015

The RFL have confirmed that New Zealand will visit England for a three-match test series in autumn 2015.

This would bring down the curtain on plans for the Great Britain Lions to tour next year, a move which seems to have been vetoed by parties in Australia.

The two sides met in a classic World Cup semi-final in 2013, with the Kiwis emerging victorious with the last play of the game.

“We are looking forward to welcoming the Kiwis in 2015 and building on the rich tradition of international Rugby League between the two nations,” said England coach Steve McNamara.

“A three-match series against a team like New Zealand will provide an intensive test for us and, as history has shown, is guaranteed to bring out the best in the England players.

“After the massive crowds we had behind us in the World Cup, it’s going to be great to play on home soil again and I’m sure the Kiwi tour will provide a memorable end to what is going to be a momentous year for the sport in this country.”

The decision to invite the Kiwis to the UK undoubtedly spells the end of the idea that Great Britain would be touring Australia.

“We are delighted to host the New Zealand Rugby League team in 2015,” said RFL chief excutive Nigel Wood.

“The semi-final between England and the Kiwis in 2013 was one of the best international games between nations who have a history going back to 1907 and we are in for a treat when these two teams meet again.

“Following the Four Nations in Australia and New Zealand this year, we were keen to give our fans the opportunity to watch England at home and I am sure the Kiwi tour will be a huge drawcard.”

The Kiwis last toured the UK in 2007, when they played a three-test series against Great Britain, with games being held at Huddersfield, Hull and Wigan.

The Lions won that series 3-0, but New Zealand would go on to win the World Cup in 2008.

“Whenever we’ve toured England in the past, it has proved very challenging in terms of facing them on home soil. The World Cup was really the first time we’d won there in quite some time,” said New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney.

“When you look at the way their players have continued to develop in the NRL, you can see it will be a real contest and vital towards our preparation for the World Cup in 2017.”

Details of fixture dates, venues and ticket availability will be announced in mid-November.

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