Mal Meninga: Australia Test against Tonga important for growth of sport

Australia coach Mal Meninga says their Test against Tonga was needed to help grow international rugby league.

The Kangaroos will come up against the Mate Ma’a for the first time ever on October 20 at the Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.

Meninga thinks it is vital to get the Pacific island countries involved more on an international level.

He said: “The Test is a great initiative by the game to capitalise on the back of Tonga’s success at last year’s World Cup.

“It will be Tonga’s first ever Test match against the Kangaroos and it is a shot in the arm for the international game.

“The Test is very important to help grow the game internationally. We all understand how well the Tongans did last year and we want to keep the momentum going on the back of that. I think the Pacific islands have some great strength now and there a lot of pacific islanders playing in the National Rugby League competition.

“We just want to broaden the reach for international games so there are more pathways for kids coming through.”

Australia players were forced to take a pay-cut of around $15,000 from their $20,000 Test match fee so the game could go ahead.

And Meninga is just glad that all of the Kangaroos’ players agreed to take the cut and that the Test has been given the green light.

He added: “It has got the go ahead now and it is one of the best things that could happen to the international game.

“The players have been fantastic, so we have got a Test match against the Kiwis on October 13 and the Rugby League Players Association know how important it is for the international game and they have put the dollars on hold to play the game.

“Putting on the green and gold jersey is a privilege and the way they think about the jersey now is fantastic.”

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