International rugby league goes into overdrive in the coming two months. With the NRL season now finished and the Super League competition at its pointy end, the international version of the game takes centre stage.
New Zealand’s tour of the United Kingdom is the headline act with the Kiwis tackling the English in three huge test matches. If Stephen Kearney’s men can win this series, they will reclaim the top spot in world rankings. They’ll play each other in Hull, London and Wigan over fourteen days. New Zealand will also play club side Leeds Rhinos prior to the test series.
Superstar halves Shaun Johnson and Kieran Foran are already out of the tour and have just been joined by skipper Simon Mannering.
“We know Simon wants to be with us and this decision will be a huge blow for him as it is for us,” Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said.
“But his long-term health is very important to us, especially with the Four Nations scheduled for next year and, of course, the next World Cup in New Zealand and Australia the following year.
“He’s our captain and our leader but we’ll still have a strong leadership team to draw on and his absence this time will give us a chance to develop some other players in that role.”
England will prepare with a test against old rivals France in Leigh on October 24th.
The European Championship also begins on October 16th which will be played out between Wales, Scotland, France and Ireland.
Lebanon will play South Africa in a World Cup Qualifier in Dubai and have been boosted by the naming of Robbie Farah, Josh Mansour and Tim Mannah in their squad.
While that looks like a mismatch on paper, one that should be a tighter affair will be Tonga and Cook Islands who’ll clash at Campbelltown Stadium on October 17. The Tongans are stacked right across the field and should have too much class for the Cooks at the back ends of both halves.
Rugby league heads to the home of the ancient Olympics when Green play Spain in Athens. On the same day in North America, the USA Tomahawks face Canada while Norway and Sweden are vying for the Nordic Cup in Oslo. A day later Thailand play Japan in Bangkok.
Oct 16th Tonga v Cook Islands, Campbelltown (Pacific RLWC Qualifier)
Oct 16th Wales v Scotland, Wrexham (Euro Championship)
Oct 17th France v Scotland, Albi (Euro Championship)
Oct 17th Greece v Spain, Athens (Euro Championship C)
Oct 17th USA v Canada (Colonial Cup)
Oct 17th Norway v Sweden, Oslo (Nordic Cup)
Oct 18th Thailand v Japan, Bangkok (Asian Cup)
Oct 23rd Scotland v Ireland, Galashiels (Euro Championship)
Oct 24th England v France, Leigh (International)
Oct 30th Lebanon v South Africa, Dubai (Middle East & Africa Test)
Oct 30th Wales v France, Cardiff (Euro Championship)
Nov 1st England v New Zealand, Hull (Test Match)
Nov 7th England v New Zealand, London (Test Match)
Nov 7th France v Scotland, Avignon (Euro Championship)
Nov 7th Ireland v Wales, Bray (Euro Championship)
Nov 14th England v New Zealand, Wigan (Test Match)