A proposal for the Kiwis to play a test in Denver looks likely to be shot down but they could play the Kangaroos in Qatar - if Australian coach Mal Meninga gets his way.

The Kiwis are set to play the Kangaroos in New Zealand at the end of the year in the first transtasman clash on home soil since 2014, but NRL.com suggest the game could be moved to the Middle East.

Meninga is considering an expression of interest for the Australian side to host an end of season test in Qatar in October, and the Kiwis could play the World Cup champions there as a warm-up for their three-test series against England in the UK.

Read more: One-off test in Denver makes no sense for Kiwis


Australia are also in talks to play an end of year test against Tonga – with Hawaii and Auckland touted as possible venues – but the game against the Pacific Island side could also be moved to Qatar as part of a series.

NRL.com report the Kangaroos could play either the Kiwis or Tonga in Doha. Photo / Getty Images.
NRL.com report the Kangaroos could play either the Kiwis or Tonga in Doha. Photo / Getty Images.

"Qatar, which will host the FIFA World Cup in 2022, is constantly on the lookout to lure major sporting events to the country and have reached out about the possibility of hosting a rugby league fixture," detailed the report on NRL.com.

"It's likely Doha would host the potential historic Test featuring Kangaroos stars Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis, with Khalifa International Stadium holding 40,000 fans."

Given that the proposed test sits outside the NRL season, NRL clubs may not be as opposed to the idea as some have been towards the touted mid-season test between New Zealand and England in Denver during the standalone representative weekend of June 22-24.

Kiwis World Cup captain Adam Blair wants assurances around player welfare before he commits to the Denver test, and believes there's more pressing business to attend to here in New Zealand.

The new Warriors recruit is all for helping to promote rugby league around the globe but wants to learn more about the organisers plans before he commits to making the 23,604km round trip to play at America's highest altitude city.

"I guess they're trying to promote the game of rugby league," said Blair.

"It's making sure all of the little things are done properly before I even agree to go to a test match over in Denver.

"If we're trying to promote the game then it's a good idea, but as a Kiwi I think we should be doing a lot more stuff back here in New Zealand."

The Warriors are among several NRL clubs wary of how the hit-and-run trip and the effects of playing at altitude could impact on their players' recovery and their ability to back-up and play NRL games within days of their return.

Denver is nicknamed the Mile High City because it is exactly on mile above sea level (1609 metres).

Blair said the Denver test was an issue that involves the Players Association while he also believes clubs will ultimately have the final say on which of their players are released to the national sides.

"Player welfare is obviously the most important thing," he said.

"We've been in contact with the RLPA, I'm on the board there.

"That's what's most important, our welfare, and making sure everything else falls into place first.

"Obviously you've got to get all of the things passed by the clubs first before you even take foot in the camp."

Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson is excited to play alongside halves partner Blake Green in Saturday's trial against the Titans.

Kiwis and Warriors halfback Shaun Johnson was more enthusiastic about the chance to play in the US and laughed off concerns over player burnout.

"Get it on! Yeah, that'd be mad," said Johnson.

"That'd be a really cool concept and if it helps grow the game in any way I'm all for it.

"No player burnout problems over here, mate. Let's go over and play."

Johnson conceded the distance to Denver could prove problematic and admitted the possibility of the Kiwis playing an alternative mid-year test at home against Tonga also held appeal.

"I wouldn't say no to Tonga," he said.

"I'm easy. Anytime you get to represent your country (is good), it doesn't matter where it is.

"But obviously (Denver is) a pretty long way to play a game of football but if they've got their reasons for doing it we'll back them 100 per cent.

"Whatever. As long as we get a game somewhere in the middle of the year we're happy as players."

As with the Denver initiative there are player welfare concerns around a match in Doha where the average high temperature in October sits near 35 degrees, with average lows down below 25 degrees.

A Kangaroos-Tonga test in Hawaii would mean a nine-hour flight for Australian-based players while it would be just a short jaunt across the Tasman if the match was held in Auckland, as opposed to 16-hour trek to Qatar.

Johnson and Blair will make their first appearances for the Warriors in Saturday's trial match against the Gold Coast Titans on the Sunshine Coast.

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