Seriously what is the New Zealand Rugby League doing?
Why are they even thinking about a mid-year test in Denver when the answer is so much easier and so much more obvious. Could it be that they are running scared after their shock loss to Tonga at the World Cup?
The Kiwis should be playing Tonga in the mid-year test and I'd be pushing to have it at Eden Park with its huge capacity.
Anyone with half a clue about sport saw how big Tonga was at the World Cup late last year, the massive following the team has and how the natural rivalry between the two nations could provide a much-needed windfall to each organisation.
This is a no-brainer.
Tonga wants to play and the NZRL should be jumping at the interest. My guess is there would be a bigger appetite for a clash between the two than any Anzac Test in history.
The game would be a ratings winner – television companies would help bankroll it and fans would turn up in huge numbers. It gets the Kiwis playing meaningful games at home, which should help get sponsors onboard at a time when the side is coming off its worst ever World Cup performance and surely the least attractive major New Zealand sports team currently seeking sponsors. There would significantly more support from NRL clubs for a test in this part of the world than at high altitude in Denver and it could be the start of an annual fixture that becomes a financial pick-me-up every year for both nations.
The only reasonable conclusion I can draw from the NZRL's lack of interest is they are scared of losing to Tonga again and maybe they think a fixture between the two sides would see the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Manu Mau'u, David Fusitua and Sio Siua Taukeiaho remain committed to the Island nation.
None of that really matters – what they are turning their backs on would have a significantly bigger and more positive impact on the game here. Plus if nothing else it is cowardly and embarrassing.
There is a chance Tonga could play the Kangaroos in an end of year test in New Zealand. Imagine how embarrassing that would be for the NZRL.
I know the review currently underway on the failed World Cup campaign and the shambles that is the NZRL front office could have an impact on this whole situation. We can only hope the findings sweep the broom through the joint in time to make an obvious choice on a sure bet.
The clock is ticking.
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