Tonga have received confirmation that they will face Australia and New Zealand in Test matches.
New Zealand Rugby League confirmed the Tests on Wednesday after a couple of months of negotiations to make sure the international game makes the most of last year’s exciting World Cup.
The Mate Ma’a will play the Kangaroos on October 20, at the Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland, which is the weekend after Australia go up against New Zealand on October 13 at the same venue.
Tonga will then face the Kiwis on June 22 during next year’s representative weekend at the Mt Smart Stadium.
On the international announcements, NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg said: “This is a fantastic result for all fans of rugby league and the continued growth of the international game.
“Many people have worked tirelessly right around the globe to ensure this match takes place.
“I’d particularly like to thank the NZRL for their efforts to ensure this match eventuated on New Zealand soil, along with the RLPA and the players.
“Tonga are the fourth-ranked team in the world and have fully-earned their right to take on the World-Champion Kangaroos.”
NZRL chief executive Greg Peters thinks the games are vital for the international game, he said: “Kiwi fans have waited a long time, and it is great to be serving up such an exciting schedule of international matches.
“The Kiwis playing Tonga on home soil is a Test Kiwis fans and the New Zealand Rugby League community have been looking forward to.
“International rugby league is the pinnacle of our game and these Tests are another step towards developing the international calendar.”
As a result of the Tests in New Zealand going ahead, the Kiwis’ mid-season Test against England in Denver looks to have come to an end, with the NZRL and RFL yet to be paid the full amount agreed with promoter Moore Sports International.