4 Sep 2014

Kiwis to tour Britain

6:54 am on 4 September 2014

New Zealand Rugby League has confirmed the Kiwis will go on an end of season tour to England late next year.

The tour will feature three games against England, replacing a proposed French tour to New Zealand.

Kiwis celebrate against Australia in 2014

Kiwis celebrate against Australia in 2014 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The series, which will fall in England's autumn, has been arranged following the collapse of the proposed Great Britain Lions tour during a break in the annual Four Nations Series.

The International Federation chairman Nigel Wood, who is also chief executive of the Rugby Football League (RFL), was forced to look for an alternative international program after his bid to revive the Lions tour was dashed when the Australians insisted on giving their players a full off season.

The latest twist will be a major blow to France, who are forced to cancel their planned tour to New Zealand at the end of next season.

There will also be a clash with the Rugby Union World Cup being hosted in the UK, which was another factor behind the plan to tour Down Under.

The series is being billed as the first opportunity for the home side to avenge their heart-breaking World Cup semi-final loss to the Kiwis at Wembley last year.

On that occasion, the New Zealand five-eighth Shaun Johnson converted his try after the final hooter to steal victory and a spot in the final.

The tour means the Kiwis will play England through four consecutive years in the build-up to the 2017 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

They are already scheduled to clash in the 2014 and 2016 Four Nations tournaments.

"Whenever we've toured there in the past, it has proved very challenging in terms of facing England on home soil," says Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney.

"The World Cup was really the first time we'd won there in quite some time."

"When you look at the way their players have continued to develop in the NRL, you can see it will be a real contest and vital towards our preparation for the next World Cup."

New Zealand will also host England in Dunedin this autumn, but England coach Steve McNamara is already looking forward to the Kiwi tour next year.

"We are looking forward to welcoming the Kiwis in 2015 and building on the rich tradition of international rugby league between the two nations."

"A three-match series against a team like New Zealand will provide an intensive test for us and, as history has shown, is guaranteed to bring out the best in the England players."

While disappointed that the planned French visit to New Zealand would not take place, the NZRL chief executive, Phil Holden, hopes to confirm a test there as part of the northern tour to fulfil New Zealand's commitment to that relationship.