The Denver showdown between the Kiwis and England on 23 June is on track following a successful trip by New Zealand officials to Australia this week.
The Kiwis team management and New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) Chairman Reon Edwards returned to New Zealand following a constructive meeting on Tuesday with the 16 NRL clubs, the Rugby League Players’ Association (RLPA), English Rugby League (RFL) and NRL Executives.
In relation to the medical and player management issues, representatives from the RLPA confirmed they had been provided with a level of comfort regarding their specific concerns in that area.
NZRL Chair Reon Edwards said, “It was really positive to receive those comments. Of course NZRL is committed to following through on its commitment to deliver on the player management plan and maintain ongoing communication with clubs.”
Kiwis Team Doctor Greg MacLeod and High Performance Coach Donny Singe presented a comprehensive report around the player welfare and workload management that would be implemented in the lead-up to, and during the tour. It was also agreed that further assistance would be available to clubs following the players’ return from Denver.
NZRL will keep in regular communication with the NRL, NRL clubs and RLPA over the coming months to allay any other concerns with regard to the Test in Denver.
Doctor MacLeod says, “Our priority is to ensure we mitigate those risks associated with travelling long distances, a short turnaround and player workload. We have an extremely competent medical team and high performance staff and we’re fully committed to making this tour a success.”
The meeting was also attended by Rugby League International Federation Chairman John Grant who threw his support behind the June Test match, outlining the long-term benefits for the International game. The 2025 Rugby League World Cup will also be staged in the U.S in partnership with the same promoter as the Denver Test, Moore Sports International.
Edwards added, “By taking this RLIF sanctioned Test match to Denver we are breaking new ground for International Rugby League. I am the first to admit, the communication and information sharing with clubs could further improve, however all clubs have now been educated around NZRL’s commitment to mitigate the risks associated with the Denver travel demands. We’re looking forward to taking our Kiwi players to a new and exciting destination and giving the Americans a taste of International Rugby League.”
Kiwi legends Olsen Filipaina (Kiwi #529), Ali Lauitiiti (Kiwi #677) and Henry Fa’afili (Kiwi #687) are also right behind the new fixture seeing the exciting prospects for the game of rugby league in New Zealand.
“I fully support the Kiwis playing in Denver – how else is our game of rugby league going to expand if we don’t showcase it to other countries? Let’s give them a taste of Kiwi,” Filipaina said.
Lauitiiti added, “Personally, I think it’s a great initiative and it’s worked for other sports so I’m keen to see rugby league do the same thing. It’s our great game so I can’t wait for the rest of the world to be blessed with it.”