NRL mid-season internationals could be scrapped after 2022

NRL mid-season representative round World Cup NRL

This year’s mid-season international test matches in the NRL are likely to be the last, according to Tonga coach Kristian Woolf.

The Pacific nations will begin their preparations for the World Cup with a mid-season international window on June 25 which will see six nations in action.

New Zealand will take on Tonga in Auckland which will be the first elite rugby league fixture to be played in New Zealand since COVID-19.

And there will be a Pacific double-header at Campbelltown Stadium when Samoa face the Cook Islands whilst Papua New Guinea take on Fiji.

As well as the women’s and men’s State of Origin taking place that weekend, it has been dubbed the ‘biggest Representative Round in NRL history’.

However, Tonga coach Kristian Woolf is under the impression that there won’t be many more mid-season internationals Down Under after 2022.

He told Love Rugby League: “I think we are coming to a point where mid-season games probably aren’t going to happen in the future.

“There’s good reason for that as well. The game has become more intense and the toll it takes on players and the workload of players. Particularly when we talk about concussions and head knocks and that kind of thing.

“I think we are leaning towards mid-season games not being part of what we do anymore. This will most likely be the last opportunity for a mid-season test in the NRL.”

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Tonga players celebrate beating Australia PA
Tonga players celebrate beating Australia in 2019

St Helens coach Woolf has helped spearhead Tonga’s meteoric rise on the international scene.

They reached the semi-finals of the last World Cup, where they just fell short against England. Tonga continued their rise in the World Cup aftermath, picking up historic wins against Australia and Great Britain.

Woolf added: “There are certainly some benefits for us in there in terms of we are going to be a different team than what we were in 2017.

“We are going to have a lot of older heads there, some of those blokes that were in their prime in 2017 are still in their prime.

“They are at a great age now where they can be leaders and can pass on a lot of leadership and knowledge to younger players coming through.

“There are a great number of Tongan players coming through in the NRL who are racking up 40, 50, 60 NRL games. They are reaching their prime and becoming really confident in what they can do in the NRL.

“Our depth, our ability and our expectation and confidence in ourselves is going to thrive on the back of that.

“What the mid-season test allows us to do is bring those players together and bring players into what our culture is like and what playing for Tonga means. It is a culture they will really thrive in. They’ve shown that in the past so there is a lot to look forward to.”

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About Drew Darbyshire 8040 Articles
Love Rugby League Deputy Editor. Joined the site ahead of the 2017 World Cup and been a full-time reporter since 2018.


  1. See Andrew Abdo’s comments from the 28th April announcements of this year’s mid-season tests.
    “To have State of Origin and Test matches across one round for the final time before we enter a new cycle from 2023 of a dedicated international window in October is exciting for the game.”

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