England coach Shaun Wane has endorsed the decision to hold his side’s final World Cup warm-up game against Fiji in Rochdale.
Rochdale Hornets, currently in rugby league’s third tier, will host the game as part of their 150th anniversary celebrations and Wane highlighted how key it was for the sport to reach as many people as possible.
Wane said: “It’s really important to be honest.
“I think back to the Wigan v St Helens game last year when the ball was in play for 63 minutes. They went 25 minutes going at it. No penalties, no errors, ball in play.
“There is not another sport in the world that can get anywhere near that – ice hockey, NFL, Aussie Rules – and we need to tell everybody about that and go to as many grounds as possible and make sure everyone knows about our game.
“I think it’s the best game in the world. I am biased, but we have a duty to make sure we keep the rugby league family involved, but that as many non-rugby league fans as possible watch our game as well.”
🏴🇫🇯 INTERNATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE COMING TO ROCHDALE!
🏟 Rochdale Hornets is thrilled to announce that the club will host England v Fiji at the Crown Oil Arena as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations.
— Rochdale Hornets (@RochdaleHornets) April 20, 2021
Wane, speaking at a press conference alongside St Helens and Fiji centre Kevin Naiqama, said the match would be ideal preparation for his players.
He added: “Well if you’ve seen Kevin playing for St Helens, that tells you everything.
“They’re a very talented team and it’s going to be a real challenge for us, without a shadow of a doubt.
“I admire what Kevin is doing in Super League and if you look at the rest of their team, it’s going to be a full-on game.”
Rochdale, who will make an initial 2,000 tickets available for spectators, have a rich history with Fiji, with the town hosting the second largest Fijian population in the UK outside London.
Orisi Dawai, Josefa Levula, Voate Drui and Liatia Ravouvou became the first Fijian players to appear in England when they joined Rochdale in the early 1960s.