We’ve spoken about it: Tonga keen for end of year England series

Josh McAllister
Konrad Hurrell, Tonga. PA.

Tonga perform their Sipi Tau before the Rugby League World Cup semi final match between Tonga and England in 2017. Image by DAVID ROWLAND/AAP/PA Images.

Tonga are keen to play England in an end of season test series according to international centre and St Helens star Konrad Hurrell.

The international calendar on either side of the world is yet to be confirmed – partly due to the fact that the NRL is still locked in talks with its players over a collective bargaining agreement.

England will face France in a mid-season double-header in Warrington. However, any end of year fixtures are yet to be locked in.

New Zealand were believed to be keen to play England in a series, but now look set to remain Down Under in 2023 alongside world champions Australia.

Hurrell, 31, revealed to Love Rugby League that head coach Kristian Woolf has put the idea to his players about the prospect of travelling back to England in 2023 for a test series.

“Woolfy (Kristian Woolf) has already spoken to the boys and I think they’re all keen for that (to play England),” Hurrell said.

“I think playing more international fixtures will grow the game and the teams as well to be better so it’s not just Australia, New Zealand and England.

“Hopefully they’ll work something out at the end of the year. I think the boys would love to travel back over here.

“I think when Woolfy tossed it up, everyone was keen for it and saying yes.”

More calls for international calendar

The European Championships has confirmed its biggest-ever tournament later this autumn with eight teams set to compete.

England have been included, but it could be the Knights who take part. They will compete alongside Ireland, Italy, France, Wales and Scotland, Spain and Serbia.

However, Pacific nations such as Tonga and Samoa are still yet to hear on any future international fixtures, with the mid-year Pacific Tests scrapped following State of Origin’s return to three Wednesday night games.

Hurrell has joined calls to increase the international calendar following the World Cup in England. Australia claimed the title, while Samoa made history by becoming the first-ever Pacific nation to reach the final.

“Wearing the Tonga jersey means a lot to me,” Hurrell said.

“It’s great seeing the little nations doing well. It’s good to have Samoa up there. Fiji did well (at the World Cup) and PNG did well, too.

“I know we came up short again Samoa at the World Cup. But I was still proud of what the boys did. I wish I was part of that Samoa game, but Woolfy picked the best squad for that game.

“As much as it hurt to lose that game to Samoa, we were wishing for them to go all the way. And they did and fell just short against Australia.

“The World Cup may not have been out there as such, but it was great to see Samoa go all the way for the first time.”

More international content

England duo want to see Shaun Wane stay on as head coach

How the international rugby league calendar is shaping up for 2023

How the West Indies could line-up if their rugby league team returned

FOLLOW: Keep up with all the latest on the Love Rugby League mobile app and podcast