28 Aug 2020

Kiwis league Tests called off

1:53 pm on 28 August 2020

All Kiwis games are cancelled but international rugby league could still be played in New Zealand this year.

Shaun Johnson and Benji Marshall looking dejected.


New Zealand Rugby League had plans for Kiwis games against Australia and Tonga but NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said aside from the travel challenges associated with Covid-19, there were concerns about player welfare following an extended NRL season.

After attempts to stage games in New Zealand and Australia faced roadblocks the matches have been called off.

With next year's Rugby League World Cup in England on the horizon, Peters took a cautious approach with the demands the NZRL put on players who had spent long periods of time away from family with their NRL teams this year.

"There's no point in a lead-up year to what is going to be a massive year next year to play a Test match, just not feasible to expect people to quarantine for one month in total, for a one-week campaign.

"A it is costly and B it's not realistic on the people themselves."

Peters said the next time the Kiwis will take the field is likely to be in June next year with the World Cup scheduled for October and November.

The games against Australia and Tonga would have been money makers for NZRL and Peters said by not playing the games the organisation took a financial hit.

However, all hope is not lost for live international rugby league in New Zealand.

Peters said plans were in place for the women's team to play later this year.

The Kiwis Ferns celebrate winning the World 9s. Day 2 of the Rugby League World Cup 9s, Bankwest Stadium, Sydney, Australia, 19th October 2019. Copyright Photo: David Neilson / www.photosport.nz

Photo: Photosport Ltd 2019

"Kiwi Ferns versus Fetu Samoa hopefully in early November if the Auckland situation continues to improve and build a double-header match around that, so that's exciting because that would be the only live rugby league content in New Zealand this year."

The NZRL has gone from hosting a feast of international matches last year, including a touring British side, to the possibility of only one game this year.

"Certainly a big change from what we had last year to pretty much nothing on the men's front in New Zealand this year, so pretty disappointing for us but it's just the reality we are faced with at the moment."