Kiwis to play Roos again after grand final

STEVE KILGALLON
Last updated 05:00 24/04/2011
Jeremy Smith
Getty Images
DEFENCE: Jeremy Smith of the Kiwis tackles Todd Carney of the Kangaroos in the 2010 test.

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The Kiwis will play the Kangaroos a fortnight after the NRL grand final after Australia agreed to New Zealand's plans for an annual home-and-away test series.

The international is set down for October 16 in Newcastle, the Sunday Star-Times can reveal, but NZRL boss Jim Doyle says in future the fixture will alternate host nations to give local fans a fair share of test football.

Playing both tests in Australia this year makes sense because the Christchurch earthquake forced the shift of the May 5 game to the Gold Coast while the Rugby World Cup blackout means the October game makes commercial sense across the Tasman.

Doyle says the deal allows for two games a year, except in Rugby League World Cup years, and doesn't include Four Nations matches, meaning there could be up to four matches annually between the old rivals.

It's the final plank in a raft of negotiations between Doyle and the Australians over the international calendar ahead, with the 2012 calendar still to be fixed but as revealed by the Star-Times in March, likely to include a southern hemisphere tour by the English and the launch of a Pacific All-Stars team.

Securing such a commitment from the Australians is a significant boost to the Kiwi game's bottom line, with Doyle describing the financial package on offer from Newcastle – a rarely-used test venue – as "good commercial terms". In the past, such tests have been worth around $500,000 to the NZRL balance sheet.

"It's good for New Zealand rugby league," Doyle said. "Having a couple of games guaranteed every year will be good for the coffers, it will help us grow the grassroots game in this country and increase the profile of the sport."

Meanwhile, the Kiwi team for the Anzac test at Skilled Park, Robina, will be named live on Sky Television next Sunday night and go into camp at Broadbeach, on the Gold Coast, the following day.

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- Sunday Star Times

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