The NRL have unveiled a bold plan to revamp the international calendar and it doesn't include the controversial Denver test.
The shake-up could see the Kiwis play Pacific sides during the midseason stand-alone representative round over the next two years, leaving the future of the independently promoted Denver test between New Zealand and England in doubt.
The NRL today detailed plans to launch a new Oceania Cup in 2019 featuring round robin matches between New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and Tonga to be played in June and October.
There are also plans to stage a Four Nations tournament down under in 2020 featuring Tonga, Samoa, New Zealand and Australia, and another in the northern hemisphere between England, France, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.
England is also in line to tour New Zealand for a three-test series in 2022, while a new International Nines Tournament is scheduled for the end of 2019, along with a three-match Kangaroo Tour of the United Kingdom.
Traditional tests between New Zealand and Australia will also be retained in the proposal, but no mention was made of the Denver test after England beat New Zealand 36-18 in a historic game at Mile High Stadium last month.
Both England and New Zealand signed a three-year contract with Denver test organiser and promoter Moore Sports, but it's understood that arrangement is subject to annual reviews.
The NRL's plan will be presented to the Rugby League International Federation meeting in Singapore later this month, and consultation will continue between the Rugby League Players Association, the New Zealand Rugby League, Rugby Football League and other key stakeholders before the calendar is finalised.
Australian Rugby League chairman Peter Beattie said the proposed calendar would provide regular opportunities for Pacific nations to compete on the bigger stage in tournaments.
"We saw during the World Cup how the Pacific Nations emerged as genuine rivals for the top tier nations – and thrilled fans at the same time," said Beattie.
"However, until now, there has not been enough structure around the international calendar and the game has missed some real opportunities to showcase Rugby League outside Australia.
"We are presenting a four-year calendar which can be repeated and replicated in future cycles to give the international game more certainty and exposure.
"Those tournaments and events will be bookended by a World Cup every four years.
"A key to this proposal is that we are giving emerging nations the opportunity to become genuine competitors with the tier one nations.
"But we will do it by confining international tournaments to fixed windows to ensure the wellbeing of our players."
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