Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
Matches between club and International sides have been few and far between since the Kangaroo tours ended.
In the modern era travelling nations typically go up against other International opponents ahead of a big game or a tournament which generally discourages national team’s from participating in warm-up games against local club sides but heading into this year’s Rugby League World Cup the New Zealand Kiwis have agreed to keep an old tradition going and face Super League side the Leeds Rhinos in a warm-up match ahead of the tournament.
This fixture first took place back in 1907 when the touring All Golds faced Leeds Headingley where the match this October will also be contested.
Rhinos Chief Executive Officer Gary Hetherington spoke about the game via the club’s official website.
“To have been granted a game against one of our great Test-playing nations is a huge honour and a privilege for Leeds Rhinos,” said Hetherington.
“International Rugby League is the pinnacle of our sport and it has been sorely missed over the last three years due to the global pandemic.
“Our home at Headingley is intrinsically linked to the international game for over a century and I believe this game is a fantastic way to celebrate that history but also look ahead to a thrilling home World Cup here in England.”
New Zealand Rugby League’s CEO Greg Peters also gave a statement to the Rhinos website.
“To face the Rhinos at Headingley to kick start our World Cup campaign is special,” said Peters.
“The match celebrates our return to the Northern Hemisphere after an international rugby league hiatus while also commemorating the long shared history between New Zealand and Leeds that holds a special place in the hearts of Kiwi fans and legends.”
We last saw these two sides face off in 2015 when New Zealand toured England with the Kiwis victorious on that occasion.
At the World Cup New Zealand will play in group C against Ireland, Jamaica and Lebanon with Michael Maguire’s side considered by many to be one of the favourites to win the tournament later this year.