Rugby League World Cup for NZ and Australia

DAVID LONG
Last updated 20:41 19/02/2014
Cameron Smith
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WORLD CHAMPION: Cameron Smith won the World Cup with Australia last year.

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New Zealand Rugby League CEO Phil Holden is committed to take games in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup around the country.

The Rugby League International Federation tonight announced that the joint Australia/New Zealand bid to host the World Cup in three years' time had seen off the challenge from South Africa.

It was always pretty unlikely that South Africa would win the hosting rights considering the sport has minimal presence there and they didn't even play in last year's World Cup.

But the bigger issue is how many games will be held in New Zealand and where they'll be played.

The joint bid proposal from Australia and New Zealand stated that there will be one pool on this side of the Tasman, one will be shared between Papua New Guinea and northern Queensland, while the other two will be played in the rest of Australia.

Although Auckland is the stronghold of league in New Zealand, Holden says they will take games around the country and it's likely the Kiwis will play pool games in Wellington and Christchurch as well as Auckland. Cities such as Hamilton and Dunedin would probably pick up other pool games.

"A core drive for us is to ensure that we spread it around and there's a national perspective to our pool and tournament," Holden said. 

"It's a key message we've delivered to central government in terms of our request for support from them."

When it comes to the knockout stages of the tournament it's still up for grabs which countries will host which games and it will be decided by a Special Projects Vehicle put together by the RLIF to determine who gets what.

Holden describes himself as optimistic that New Zealand will get a semifinal and hopeful about the final.

"Essentially, there will be an organisation set up to run the tournament, a Special Purpose Vehicle and we'll be working hard with them to ensure that New Zealand is well represented at the pointy end of the tournament," he said.

"It will be commercially driven, so we'll ensure that our stadia put our best foot forward."

Holden doesn't regard the situation as a battle that's looming between New Zealand and Australia about getting the final because it won't be decided by either nation.

"It's not an emotional decision, it will be contestable, but it will be pragmatic and whatever is best for the tournament overall," he said.

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"The first step is that we want to make sure we have a semifinal here and I'm confident we'll do that and the final will be down to what makes the most commercial sense.

"I'm confident that stadia in New Zealand will want to put their best case forward."

Once the Special Projects Vehicle is in place, Holden will gauge the interest from around the country about where games will be played.

"I'm very conscious that the Rugby World Cup tendering process wasn't looked upon favourably by various cities across the country," he said. 

"So we'll approach that through the SPV and with a degree of sensibility."

- Fairfax Media

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