27 Jan 2016

Perth gets its first rugby league Test

4:55 pm on 27 January 2016

Perth will host its first-ever rugby league Test when the Kangaroos face the Kiwis there in October.

Shaun Johnson celebrates his try during the New Zealand Kiwis v Australia Kangaroos Four Nations Rugby League Final. 2014.

Shaun Johnson celebrates his try during the New Zealand Kiwis v Australia Kangaroos Four Nations Rugby League Final. 2014. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The October 15 match will give new coach Mal Meninga's Australian team and New Zealand counterpart Steve Kearney's world No.1 Kiwis preparation for the Four Nations tournament in Britain.

The fixture adds to the already-announced May ANZAC Test in Newcastle.

But it rules out any chance of New Zealand hosting an international this year, with the Kiwis' next home Test only coming in the 2017 World Cup, which the country's co-hosting.

01/11/2015 - Rugby League - England v New Zealand, 1st Test - KC Stadium, Hull, England.

Photo: Photosport

And Meninga insisted the AFL doesn't have anything to worry about despite the announcement that Perth will host its first-ever rugby league Test in October.

The Test at nib Stadium will be another big step forward for rugby league in Western Australia, while Perth will also host two NRL games in 2016.

Aussie rules remains the state's biggest sport, but the NRL are keen to set up a permanent team in Perth at some point in the medium to long-term future.

Meninga would love to see the league expand when the time is right, but he said the AFL shouldn't be fretting about another sport creeping onto their turf.

"They don't have to be worried at all to be honest. It's a big enough place for all sports," Meninga said.

"We fully understand that AFL is the major sport here.

"But I'm a rugby league fan. There are rugby league fans over here. Let's hope that with the three games we can satisfy them."

New Kanagaroos coach Mal Meninga at the recent draw for the NRL Auckland Nines tournament.

New Kanagaroos coach Mal Meninga at the recent draw for the NRL Auckland Nines tournament. Photo: Photosport

Meninga said it was imperative for the NRL to ensure all of the teams were financially stable before going ahead with expansion.

The additional game means the rivals could meet as many as four times this year, if they progress to the Four Nations final.

"Our aim is to play more international football and 2016 is already looming as a very busy one for our Kiwis, as they prepare for next year's World Cup," NZRL acting chief executive Alex Hayton said.

"But once the traditional mid-year fixture against Australia disappears in 2018, this is also the most likely time slot for future trans-Tasman encounters, so we need to get used to the planning and logistics around that."

"The Kiwis and Kangaroos have never played in Perth, so this will be a wonderful new experience for everyone involved."

Alex Hayton is announced as interim NZRL CEO as Phil Holden (R) steps down, 25 January 2016. Copyright Photo: William Booth / www.photosport.nz

Alex Hayton is announced as interim NZRL CEO as Phil Holden (R) steps down Photo: Photosport

NRL Head of Football Todd Greenberg said Perth was a fitting venue for the October Test for a number of reasons.

"We have seen some wonderful crowds in Perth in recent seasons and the city will again host two of our Premiership matches in 2016," Greenberg said.

"So it stands to reason that Perth should also host the best that international rugby league can offer.

"It is clear that Perth has embraced our club games in recent years and we will see another two important Premiership matches in the city this year.

"The support that the game has received is a key reason we have decided to stage a Test match in Perth."

- AAP

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