Warriors CEO Cameron George hopes that "common sense" will see the controversial Denver test shifted from its mid-year spot next season.

The Kiwis and England meet in Denver on June 23 (June 24 NZT), in the first match of a slated three year foray into North America.

But the buildup to the game – which was only confirmed a week before the NRL season – has been plagued with issues, with the overriding concern around the impact of the approximate 40 hour return flight on the welfare and recovery of the players.

The latest twist, reported by The Australian newspaper, was a letter sent to the New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL), Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) and England's Rugby Football League (RLF) which said there was "little prospect" that NRL players would be released for the match if it was staged at the same time next year.


In other words, the test will need to be moved to the end of the season, or it just won't be viable.

George fully supports the issues raised in the letter, which was signed by NRL CEO Todd Greenberg, Rugby League Players' Association boss Ian Prendergast, and Rabbitohs CEO Blake Solly, on behalf of all the clubs.

"I'm certainly right behind the stance," George told the Herald. "At the Warriors we will always be supportive of the international game and that hasn't changed.
But this (Denver) is a huge challenge in terms of player welfare and we need to have their best interests at heart. Spending 40 hours on a plane, as well as everything else, in the middle of our season, is a massive issue."

George is calling for a rethink, with the current format unworkable into the future.

"There needs to be a common sense approach," said George. "All the governing bodies need to sit down, review the position of the [future] games and find a solution that works for everyone."

NZRL Chairman Reon Edwards is realistic about the current scenario, admitting the Denver experiment was always going to be a hard sell.

"It's no secret, the clubs have said all along that they are not necessarily in support of it…but they support international rugby league," said Edwards. "For obvious reasons they are protective about their players at this time of the year."

"We always knew there were going to be some hurdles. We knew that the clubs were going to push back [and] be reluctant to cooperate and support it. It is what it is, and the realities of dealing with the NRL."


In terms of next year, Edwards couldn't guarantee the proposed matches would go ahead in the June window.

"We are keeping an open mind about the future," said Edwards. "We need to prove ourselves in the first year. We want to get through this year and we will assess it after the test match."

"We are really determined to make sure this is a success. We have to prove to the NRL that this can be a success and the welfare around the players can be well managed. Then it becomes a discussion with the International Rugby League Federation and the NRL to see what year two and three look like."

Edwards also remained confident that the Kiwis' selectors will have a decent pool of players to choose from.

"The clubs have told us they will allow their players to play," said Edwards. "It's the players' call if they want to play. There might be the odd one who is playing for a contract at this time of year…that will be a decision for those players that find themselves in that position. But the clubs have said it's the player's choice."

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