League: Aussies grumpy over schedule release

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SYDNEY - Three months after a sensational World Cup, international rugby league is again in disarray with Australia upset at the early release of details about the proposed Four Nations tournament.

The Rugby League Federation (RLF) on Monday announced locations and dates for the new tournament to be held in England and France starting October.

The exciting new tournament was supposed to carry on from the success of last year's World Cup in Australia, with 10th placed France added to the previous Tri Nations format.

But in another case of the international game shooting itself in the foot, the Australian Rugby League claim it has yet to agree to the proposal.

ARL chief executive Geoff Carr said the Kangaroos would "definitely" participate in the series, but was annoyed the RLIF released details before it had been finalised.

"At this stage the RLF have seen fit to bring out a schedule on a proposal rather than an approval," said Carr.

"Don't ask me why they've done that, you better ask them.

"It hasn't been approved by us.

"There's been some proposed venues and times, which usually happens and what should have happened on this occasion is that budgets are then drawn up on those particular events and times and we then determine whether those proposed times and events are the best for the tournament then we give approval.

"We haven't seen any budgets on it and if they wish to put a press release out on a proposal that hasn't been approved that is up to them, but I will be trying to find out why they did it.

"We are definitely going to play it, but there is a process to go through before you give final approval."

The schedule released has Australia facing nemesis and current world champions New Zealand at Twickenham's Stoop Stadium on the weekend of October 24-25, with England facing France at Doncaster's Keepmoat Stadium.

The Kangaroos and England meet in week two at Wigan's JJB Stadium, with the Kiwis travelling to France, before Australia travel across the channel to face France in the final round of matches and the Kiwis clash with England at Huddersfield.

The final of the Four Nations will be held at Elland Road Stadium in Leeds on November 14.

The location for the two games in France, involving the Kiwis and Kangaroos, were not disclosed.

RLF executive chairman Richard Lewis said the Four Nations tournament would be England's chance to prove itself worthy to hold the 2013 World Cup, after posting a significant financial loss hosting the 2000 event.

"We want to prove to the Rugby League International Federation that we are the right country to host the Rugby League World Cup in 2013," said Lewis.

Carr said Australia remained keen to retain the hosting rights for the next World Cup after posting multi-million dollar profits last year.

"We have always said we'd be happy to do it again down here if it was in the best interests of the game," said Carr.

"(England) haven't proven that to the international federation or ARL at this stage.

"No doubt they're keen to do it, but there is a lot of work for them to do before they get to this stage."

- AAP

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