Hopes for sellout Kiwis test in Dunedin

Phil Holden
Phil Holden
The Kiwis are coming back to Dunedin - after 86 years - and it is hoped the test will be a sellout.

The New Zealand Rugby League announced yesterday Forsyth Barr Stadium would host a test between the Kiwis and England on November 8 as part of the Four Nations tournament.

It is the first rugby league test to be played in Dunedin since the two sides met at the old Caledonian Ground in 1928.

Other tests will be played in Whangarei and Wellington as the NZRL looks to take the game to the regions.

NZRL chief executive Phil Holden said yesterday he was confident the game in Dunedin, one of the tournament's critical fixtures, would be a success.

If both sides lose to Australia, which history suggests will happen, the game in Dunedin will be a virtual knockout match to decide which team goes through to the final the following week.

''If you can't get excited in what is going to be a replay of that great World Cup semifinal, in one of the best stadiums in the country, I'm not sure what will get your heart going,'' Mr Holden said.

It was likely the Kiwis would spend time in Dunedin before the match.

''Though we haven't got down to those logistics yet, to come down there for some time before the game would be our desire. I would imagine the team would want to be down there to acclimatise to the stadium, as they have never played there before.''

He did not want to predict crowd numbers but was bullish.

''We want a full house. That is what we are aiming for. It is going to be a big game.''

With the Rugby League World Cup in New Zealand and Australia in 2017, the NZRL was keen to take the game to the regional areas and get more people to see the Kiwis. Auckland had missed out but was likely to host the Anzac test next year.

Asked whether any financial guarantees had been given by the Dunedin City Council and Dunedin Venues Management Ltd, Mr Holden said they had been fully supportive and all groups were united in promoting the game.

DVML chief executive Terry Davies said it was great for the stadium to get such an important game.

''In my limited experience in this city, people here really rally around a one-off game, a real game that people want to see,'' Mr Davies said.

''It is a bit different than a club game, which is more tribal. We have been starved of international events, which we believe are more of an experience.''

He hoped for a full house or at least a crowd of 20,000.

Tickets go on sale next month and prices are yet to be set.