Date: 25/8/16

Spain and Serbia will meet for the first time as both nations prepare for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup European Qualifiers this autumn.

They are in different pools as they both attempt to reach the final stages of the tournament – to be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea – for the first time, and will play an international fixture as part of their build-up on 24 September at Quatre Carreres, Valencia (kick off 5pm), the venue for Spain’s home qualifier against Ireland the following month.

Spain coach Darren Fisher commented: “We are really pleased we have secured this match, it will be a pleasure to welcome Serbia to Spain as we both put our preparations together for the World Cup Qualifiers in October.

“We have a very good relationship with the Serbian players and staff and it’s great to finally play one another in what promises to be a great contest. We know the Serbians will be very physical and well-organised and it is ideal for us to get used to that style as we get set to face the highest standard in our short history.

Fisher added: “For me it’s a great opportunity to select a domestically-based squad and give them a test at the level required for the qualifiers, I’ll be giving several debuts to new players and it will be exciting to see how well they contribute.”

Serbian Rugby League Federation general secretary Slobodan Mank added: “We are very glad that Spain answered our call for this match. We want to prepare as best as we can because we have high hopes to qualify for the next World Cup and it will be a good test for our boys to see where we stand now.”

The Serbians will be led by head coach Ljubomir Bukvic after Darren Higgins has had to stand down from the post.

“We regret Darren is no longer coach of the national team because he could not fit his professional and personal commitments together with the obligations needed for the Serbian national side,” Mank said.

“We thank Darren for all he had done to raise the standard and wish him all the best in the future, he has put in some long lasting structures which we will benefit from. Serbian Rugby League is in talks with potential candidates for the position and we hope that we can announce his replacement soon.”

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