The build up to the Rugby League World Cup 2017 (RLWC2017) officially commences this weekend, with seven of the 14 competing nations featuring in Test matches in Canberra and Sydney.
RLWC2017 co-hosts New Zealand and Australia will get the international weekend underway when they square off at Canberra Stadium on Friday night in a Test likely to determine favouritism for this year’s World Cup.
The clash between Samoa, who play in Auckland and Hamilton during the World Cup, and England then headlines a day of international action at Campbelltown Stadium (Sydney) on Saturday.
The Pacific Invitational triple-header also includes Test matches involving RLWC2017 nations Tonga, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.
Tonga, who will also be in Hamilton for two matches during the RLWC2017, take on Fiji while RLWC2017 hosting partner Papua New Guinea play Cook Islands.
The Test matches are the last chance for teams to claim bragging rights heading into the World Cup, while players will be looking to press for selection for the tournament to be played in 13 cities across New Zealand, Australia and Papua New Guinea at the end of the season.
Among the host cities are Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Wellington, which between them will host seven RLWC2017 matches, including a semi-final at Mt Smart Stadium on November 25.
Before then on Saturday 28 October, Auckland will host the first RLWC2017 match in New Zealand when the Kiwis take on Samoa.
Hamilton will see international rugby league for the first time when Waikato Stadium hosts the all-Pacific clash between Samoa and Tonga on November 4, with the Kiwis taking on Tonga a week later on November 11.
Christchurch Stadium is the venue for the match between the Kiwis and Scotland on November 4, before the city hosts a quarter-final on November 18, the same day that Wellington stages a possible Kiwis quarter-final.
RLWC2017 CEO Andrew Hill said the support of the New Zealand Government and Host Cities had ensured rugby league fans across the country would see the world’s best players and teams battle it out for the Paul Barrière Trophy.
“This weekend’s Test matches are just the entrée to the main event at the end of the season and teams will be looking to build from these matches towards the Rugby League World Cup.”
“The Rugby League World Cup will be the biggest rugby league event New Zealand has ever hosted and is being eagerly anticipated by the players, coaches and supporters across the game.”
The RLWC2017 will feature 14 teams, contesting 28 games, in 13 cities over five weeks from 27 October to 2 December 2017. An estimated 450,000 fans are expected to attend the RLWC2017, a tournament record.
RLWC2017 tickets start from $10 children/concessions, $20 adults and $45 for a family of four.
Tournament tickets and information at rlwc2017.com.