Chris Rattue: When not to play a league test

Jason Taumalolo of the Kiwis is tackled during the Trans Tasman Test match against the Australian Kangaroos. Photo / Getty
Jason Taumalolo of the Kiwis is tackled during the Trans Tasman Test match against the Australian Kangaroos. Photo / Getty

The closer Saturday night's league test gets the more the blood boils.

Playing in Perth, with a 10pm New Zealand kickoff time, is no way no way to draw in the most fans and keep league's flickering test flame alive.

Maybe the Aussies are running scared, doing anything they can to prevent the powerful Kiwis running amok backed by fervent home support.

They blame their current broadcasting deal and say the situation will improve. But I simply don't trust Australian league administrators to keep their word. When push comes to shove, they are more than happy to tell New Zealand to shove off. They didn't even consult New Zealand on the new broadcasting deal, which kicks off in 2018.

Auckland, the centre of New Zealand league, has hosted only two trans-Tasman tests since 2010. Between 2000 and 2009, New Zealand hosted four tests, and Australia 12.

Somehow, New Zealand has got to keep the pressure on to turn this around. There is a wonderful rivalry in the offing and Australia's selfish attitude is stuffing it up. As for Perth, it's Aussie Rules territory and a league dud. The Western Reds folded in the 1990s, with emotional obituaries in short supply.

Taking a jewel in the crown to Perth. You have to be joking.

Saturday night's game should have been played in Auckland. Even Hamilton's excellent stadium would have been better than Perth. International league already finds it hard enough to distinguish itself from the NRL - using a test as an NRL promotion, and a pointless one at that, only makes matters worse.

Still, the Perth test is a mouth watering proposition. The Kiwis have a squad which can win every test they play, and win well.

Australia still has a very strong core and Greg Inglis - assuming he plays after the birth of his child - remains a potential game breaker in Perth. But the Kiwis have forwards led by the rampaging Cowboy Jason Taumalolo who could smash the Aussies.

Australia continues to be menacing though - off the field. The referee and all the video reviewers in Perth are Australian. The Perth promotional bizzo has come complete with meaningless quotes from Aussie players about how they would love rugby league to tame the Aussie Rules-devoted west. The players sounded like tools.

Golden opportunity wasted. With the All Blacks' stampede on hold this weekend, it was the perfect time to give international league an unchallenged spot on prime time and home soil.

- NZ Herald

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