Kiwis to get Tonga re-match

The Kiwis will get a chance to avenge their 2017 World Cup loss to Tonga. Photo: Getty Images
The Kiwis will get a chance to avenge their 2017 World Cup loss to Tonga. Photo: Getty Images
The Kiwis will get their long awaited re-match against Mate Ma'a Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium next June.

They will also play the first of two home tests against Great Britain in a triple-header clash at Eden Park in November.

New Zealand will face off against Tonga mid-season in the opening game of the inaugural Oceania Cup tournament on June 22, in the first meeting between the two sides since Tonga's upset quarterfinal win over the Kiwis in Hamilton at the 2017 World Cup.

The match will be a double-header with the Kiwi Ferns women's side also set to take on a yet to be confirmed Pacific Island team.

Following the end of the NRL season, the Michael Maguire-coached Kiwis will head across to Australia to play the world champion Kangaroos at Wollongong's WIN Stadium on October 25.

That test will be the first transtasman clash since New Zealand scored a boil-over victory against their green and gold rivals in Auckland last October. The double-header bill will also feature a test between the Kiwi Ferns and Australian Jillaroos.

Kiwi-based Tongan fans will have a second chance to see their team in action when they play Great Britain at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton on October 26, in the opening test of the Lions tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

The Lions visit will be their first tour down under since 2006, with current England coach Wayne Bennett to also oversee the composite side.

Eden Park will then host a triple-header on November 2, headlined by the Kiwis first encounter with Great Britain, following two Oceania Cup tests between Australia and Tonga - in a re-match of last November's sell-out match in Auckland - and Samoa lining up against Fiji.

The Kiwis will then head to Christchurch Stadium a week later for their second and final test against the Lions, in another double-header that will also see Papua New Guinea face off against Fiji in their Oceania Cup clash.

Confirmation of the Kiwis calendar addresses longstanding complaints from local fans that, outside of the 2017 World Cup, have only had one opportunity per year to see the national side in action on these shores since the 2014 Four Nations.

"Our rugby league community in New Zealand has been hoping for more international and Kiwi fixtures in our backyard for a while now so I'm pleased we'll be able to deliver on this for them," said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters.

"The Kiwis versus Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium will be a blockbuster occasion to kick off a momentous year for international rugby league fans in New Zealand."

The Lions will not meet the Kangaroos on this tour and instead will head to Papua New Guinea to play a one-off test in Port Moresby on November 16.

"The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time so this is an exciting announcement for us," said Rugby Football League chief executive Ralph Rimmer.

"It's 12 years since Great Britain last played a test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.

"There is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt, it's great to have it back and we'll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition."

The Oceania Cup will see Pool A sides (New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga) compete for the Oceania Cup trophy, while Pool B teams (Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea) fight for promotion into Pool A in 2020.

2019 international rugby league schedule

June 22: Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
Kiwis v Tonga (Oceania Cup Pool A)
Kiwi Ferns v TBC

June 22: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney
Samoa v PNG (Oceania Cup Pool B)
Fiji v Cook Islands

October 25: WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Australia v Kiwis (Oceania Cup Pool B)
Jillaroos v Kiwi Ferns

October 26: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Tonga v Great Britain (Lions tour)

November 2: Eden Park, Auckland
Kiwis v Great Britain first test (Lions tour)
Australia v Tonga (Oceania Cup Pool A)
Samoa v Fiji (Oceania Cup Pool B)

November 9: Christchurch Stadium
Kiwis v Great Britain second test (Lions tour)
Fiji v PNG (Oceania Cup Pool B)

November 16: National Football Stadium, Port Moresby
PNG Kumuls v Great Britain (Lions tour)
PNG Orchids v Pacific All Stars

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