League's Four Nations final set for Wellington

DAVID LONG
Last updated 05:03 06/04/2014

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Wellington is in for a bonanza of rugby league with this year's Four Nations final set to take place in the city on November 15, while the Warriors and Wests Tigers are looking at playing each other twice a year in the capital.

Even though the Four Nations tournament is less than seven months away, there still hasn't been any official announcements about the location of matches.

The Australian Rugby League Commission has been dragging its heels on confirming fixtures, something that clearly won't help ticket sales on this side of the Tasman.

However, Sunday News understands that the Four Nations final will take place at the Cake Tin this year.

It will be first time the final has been held in New Zealand, though its predecessor, the Tri-Nations, had its decider at Mt Smart Stadium in 1999.

Initially there was to be a double-header in Wellington over Labour Weekend but because of the G20 summit in Brisbane, which takes place November 15-16, the plan was changed.

Other fixtures which are yet to be officially confirmed include a double-header in Brisbane, Australia playing England in Melbourne and the Kiwis taking their game against England to Dunedin.

Meanwhile, the Warriors and Wests Tigers have started discussions about playing each other twice in Wellington next season.

Last weekend more than 22,000 spectators braved the poor weather to attend the game.

Playing games in Wellington appeals to both clubs, who will look to schedule their respective home and away fixtures there next year.

The game at the Cake Tin was a Warriors' home fixture but Wests Tigers CEO Grant Mayer is no stranger in taking Australian NRL clubs to Wellington.

"I was the Bulldogs operations manager in the four years we took games Wellington, so I know the venue intimately," Mayer said.

"If you get the marketing and placement of the dates right you can attract 20,000 people quite easily.

"So there is absolutely appeal to it. Wayne [Scurrah, Warriors CEO] and I have spoken about the potential of doing a home and away series in Wellington. It has only been a quiet conversation over a cup of coffee but it's certainly something that both of us will pursue."

While the focus is on playing two games a year in Wellington, Mayer isn't averse to looking at other New Zealand cities if they can come up with a good offer.

"Wests Tigers have been to Christchurch before. It started well but probably wasn't as commercially lucrative as it should have been towards the back-end of that relationship.

"We're open to speaking to any venue operator that wants to host the Wests Tigers."

During Benji Marshall's time with the Tigers there was plenty of interest in the club in New Zealand.

Although Marshall is now playing rugby (albeit from the sidelines), Mayer feels there are other players on his books that Kiwis are interested in seeing.

"There are probably more New Zealanders in the squad in 2014 than there's ever been," he said. "That's an appeal no doubt but, to be fair, that's only one part of the equation. The fact that we've got some great young talent across the board gives the people of New Zealand the chance to see some of the rising stars of our game."

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Meanwhile, Scott Carter, the chairman of the New Zealand Rugby League and Rugby League International Federation, is set to announce his resignation from both positions today.

- Sunday News

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