League: Samoan challenge at World Cup

Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Dean Purcell.
Mt Smart Stadium. Photo / Dean Purcell.

The Kiwis are set to be grouped with Samoa, Tonga and Scotland at this year's World Cup but will be denied the chance of playing the final in New Zealand should they get that far.

New Zealand and Australia are co-hosting this year's tournament - Papua New Guinea will also host three group games - with Brisbane the likely venue for the final.

Games in Auckland are expected to be played at Mt Smart Stadium rather than Eden Park, meaning New Zealand's biggest stadium will miss out. The draw will be announced on Tuesday.

It's expected to reveal that the Kiwis will kick off their campaign on October 28 against Samoa in Auckland, almost certainly at Mt Smart Stadium. They will then take on Scotland in Christchurch on November 4 and Tonga in Hamilton on November 11.

Christchurch and Wellington will host quarter-finals on November 18 and Auckland a semifinal on November 25 which, if based on seedings, should see the Kiwis take on England. That match is also likely to be at Mt Smart Stadium.

There's a feeling games will have more chance of selling out at Mt Smart, which can accommodate 30,000 fans, as opposed to Eden Park, which has a normal capacity of 50,000 - 60,000 attended the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.

But it's understood Eden Park and Ateed didn't help their case by trying to incorporate the World Cup into a wider rugby league vision. They hoped to see the venue host more NRL games and even a State of Origin fixture but the World Cup is run by the international federation whereas the NRL and Origin is the domain of Australian league.

The last international played at Eden Park was the 2012 Anzac test and the Warriors have played six NRL games there since 2011.

The venue hosted two games in the 2010 Four Nations as well as the 2008 World Cup match against Australia and the 1988 World Cup final.

Auckland council wanted the Warriors to relocate to Eden Park as part of a stadiums reshuffle but the NRL club received a new licence to stay at Mt Smart until 2028.

Fourteen teams will contest this year's World Cup.

- Herald on Sunday

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