The Kiwis national league team will be regular fixtures on home soil over the next few years, being expected to play at least two tests annually in New Zealand from 2019 onwards.

Coach Michael Maguire's team will face the Kangaroos next month at Mt Smart, as part of an historic triple header on October 13, which will also feature the Kiwi Ferns and the Junior Kiwis facing their Australian counterparts.

It will signal the start of a new era, where there will be a veritable feast of international league in this country.

Over the last decade the chance for league fans to see the Kiwis in the flesh was about the same as seeing the bird itself — fleeting and rare.


There hasn't been a trans-tasman test in Auckland since 2012, when the Kangaroos prevailed 20-12 in Shaun Johnson's international debut.

Before last year's World Cup, the Kiwis had played only eight times in New Zealand since 2010.

That's about to change.

"We are committed to more tests in New Zealand and that is a key strategy for us," said New Zealand Rugby League CEO Greg Peters. "It's vital in so many ways."

The Kiwis will almost certainly play at home next June, with the Denver experiment set to be shelved, and there is likely to be one, or probably more, tests in New Zealand at the end of next year.

As well as the biannual clashes with Australia, the enhanced programme will include a commitment for more matches against Pacific nations, as well as Lions tours.

Peters emphasised there will also be increased activity for the Kiwi Ferns — as the women's game continues to grow in popularity — and the various age group teams.

"I made my Kiwis debut here in Auckland," said Adam Blair. "I was very lucky. I always enjoyed coming home to play for the Kiwis but I can't remember doing it too many times."


Blair added that the upcoming match, and the new schedule, felt like a new beginning for league, after a disastrous 2017 season.

"It's a step in the right direction for the NZRL," said Blair. "[Let's] draw a line in the sand. This is the New Zealand Rugby League, [a] new team, [a] new coach ... let's start all over and let's do it all again."

Teammate Issac Luke was equally upbeat.

"It will definitely be a special occasion, to be part of a triple header," said Luke. "Hopefully it will be a packed out stadium at Mt Smart. It's always special to play in front of friends and family."

The match will continue Luke's renaissance. He was left out of the 2017 World Cup squad — after a disappointing NRL campaign — and had signalled that the test in Denver in June could be his Kiwis swansong.

But now he looks likely to continue into 2019, at least, given his strong form.

"Madge [Maguire] is in my ear," said Luke. "He's always in my ear about playing. [But] there are a lot of kids coming through in my position and I am all good to step aside for them.

"I always want to keep playing for the Kiwis, always put my hand up for it. But I am also looking for what's best for the team [and] what I can do to help bring the young guys through. I was blooded at 20 years [old] and hopefully I can help the new generation [of players]."

Kiwis tests in New Zealand

2010 - 4 (Four Nations)
2011 - 0
2012 - 1
2013 - 0
2014 - 3 (Four Nations)
2015 - 0
2016 - 0
2017 - 4 (World Cup)