Kiwis will go troppo with test in Rarotonga

AARON LAWTON
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2011

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The Kiwis are expected to play a test in tropical Rarotonga against the Cook Islands in October as part of their build-up to the Four Nations.

A test against the Kangaroos in Newcastle on October 16 has already been announced and will be New Zealand's last hit-out before they head up to England for the tournament they won last year.

The New Zealand Rugby League's football manager Tony Kemp, who also doubles as the Kiwis' team manager, flew out to Rarotonga on Friday to investigate the prospect of adding another test to the Kiwis' schedule.

NZRL boss Jim Doyle confirmed a test against the Cook Islands was on the table and said it was close to being signed off.

"Assuming that we can organise fields, training facilities and accommodation of the right standard, we will have a warm-up match up there before we play Australia in Newcastle," Doyle said.

"It will be a Kiwis test match but it will only be for the players who don't take part in the NRL finals.

"We try to play at least one test a year against one of the Pacific nations to help grow the game internationally.

"But we can't have it in New Zealand this year because of the Rugby World Cup."

The NRL's finals series begins in early September and Doyle said the test against the Cook Islands would ensure the Kiwis players not involved would have some sufficient game time before the Four Nations.

"We will select a team for this Cook Islands match and it will be made up of the players who haven't played for four or five weeks due to the NRL finals," Doyle said.

"We will also likely take some of their families up as well.

"So it's going to be a test match but we will also allow the guys to have a bit of family time as well."

A date for the Rarotonga test is yet to be confirmed but is likely to be in early October after the NRL season has finished.

In recent years, the NZRL has made a conscious effort to help promote rugby league internationally by playing tests against Pacific nations.

In 2008 and 2009, the Kiwis played Tonga in one-off tests before locking horns with Samoa last year.

"We obviously want to try and help the Pacific nations where we can," Doyle said.

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- Sunday Star Times

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