The Kiwis' global experiment has began, with confirmation of the test in North America later this year, but they will face a battle to win local favour.
As reported in the Herald on Sunday last week, the Kiwis will face England in Denver in June, during the NRL's representative round bye weekend.
It's an ambitious plan, and the first of three matches in North America, with the two nations also scheduled to meet in Colorado's capital in 2019 and 2020.
The New Zealand Rugby League believe it is an important step in the gradual expansion of the sport, especially with the 2025 World Cup due to be staged in the United States and Canada.
There is also a significant financial upside for the NZRL, with a guaranteed revenue stream from the matches over the next three years.
But the logistics of the venture are challenging, which has led to concern from NRL clubs and the Rugby League Players Association.
The match will be staged on Saturday June 23 at 2pm Denver time, which is Sunday June 24 10am (NZT).
It means that the Kiwis players will not arrive back in Australasia until Tuesday June 26.
The match will also be played at altitude (Denver sits at 1,609m above sea level) and the squad faces a near 40 hour round trip to North America.
All of those factors will compromise preparations for the following round of the NRL, especially the matches on June 28 (Dragons vs Eels) and June 29 (Warriors vs Sharks and Roosters vs Storm), with a large contingent of potential Kiwis players featuring for those clubs
However NZRL CEO Alex Hayton hopes that common ground can be reached with the affected teams.
"This kind of travel is something new for rugby league," said Hayton. "But Super Rugby have been managing such trips for a long time. We need to make such that the coaches and medical teams at the clubs understand how we are going to do things, and they will be reassured that the players will come back in a good state ready to play for their clubs. I'm sure we will have the bulk of our players there."
Hayton was also confident that NRL clubs will see the potential for the international game.
"All 16 clubs support international rugby league and what we are trying to do here," added Hayton. "We think they will keep an open mind and we are working through things with the clubs."
Former Kiwis captain Simon Mannering voiced his support for the proposal yesterday.
"It's a great concept," said Mannering. "Growing our game internationally has to be a priority, think of the opportunities we could create if it was a genuine international sport. I know it will be tough for some NRL clubs to see the importance at first, but if we really care about the game, then I think it's something we have to support. I definitely will."
The NZRL also confirmed that the end of season clash with the Kangaroos will be in Auckland, scotching some Australian reports that it could be moved to Qatar.
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