England to play NZ Maori in warm-up game

England will complete their preparations for the 2010 Four Nations with a warm-up game against New Zealand Maori at Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland, on Saturday October 16.


The fixture is a curtain-raiser to a Test between New Zealand and Samoa and England coach Steve McNamara feels the match will be invaluable as his squad gears up for full internationals against New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea.


“This game is going to play an important part of our preparations and we’re all really looking forward to playing the New Zealand Maori,” said McNamara.


“We’ve made slow starts in our last two international tournaments, the 2008 Rugby League World Cup and the Gillette Four Nations last year, and this match gives us the opportunity to ensure we hit the ground running.


“We’ll be giving the majority of the squad a hit out, including the players who feature in the Engage Super League Grand Final and the boys who are joining us from NRL clubs.”


The match against England will be the Maori’s first international since the New Zealand Rugby League centenary season in 2008 and NZ Maori Chairman Howie Tamati expects to include a strong line up to face England in Auckland:


“The NZ Maori Rugby League is excited by the opportunity for the Maori team to take the field against England,” said Tamati.


“The Maori team will be made up from players from Super League and the NRL and will be a team that showcases the depth and quality of the Maori players we have available to New Zealand.


“We will be working closely with the NZ selectors to ensure that the best possible players are selected to play for the NZ Maori team in what promises to be a competitive game against England.”


A NZ Maori Rugby League team first toured overseas in 1908 and played against England in 1910 – the first ever International match in New Zealand by any team.


For many years, the Maori have competed in the Pacific Cup and two years ago played an Australian Indigenous side ahead of the official opening ceremony of the 2008 Rugby League World Cup match in Sydney.


England will also play a warm-up game against Cumbria at The Recreation Ground, Whitehaven, on Sunday October 3, the proceeds from which will go to the family of Garry Purdham, who was killed by gunman Derek Bird in June.


England will fly to Auckland on Friday 8 October to prepare for the Four Nations.


2010 Gillette Four Nations fixtures:


Saturday October 23 – New Zealand v England (Wellington, 8am BST)

Sunday October 24 – Australia v Papua New Guinea (Sydney, 6am)

Saturday October 30 – New Zealand v Papua New Guinea (Rotorua, 6am)

Sunday October 31 – Australia v England, (Melbourne, 9am GMT)

Saturday November 6 – England v Papua New Guinea (Auckland, 5am)

Saturday November 6 – New Zealand v Australia (Auckland, 7.15am)

Saturday 13 November – Four Nations Final (Brisbane, 9am)

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