Tonga to meet Australia for first time in rugby league history

Australia will play Tonga in an historic rugby league Test in Auckland next month.

The Kangaroos will face Mate Ma'a on October 20 at Mt Smart Stadium, a week after playing a Test at the same venue against New Zealand.

Making history: Tonga will play Australia for the first time.

Making history: Tonga will play Australia for the first time.

It will be the first time the world champions have played fourth-ranked Tonga, who were a force at last year's World Cup.

It will also be the Kangaroos' first non-tournament Test on neutral soil since they played the Kiwis in Leigh, England in 1954.

The prohibitive cost of stadium hire in Australia led to months of negotiation between the NRL and the New Zealand Rugby League.

The NZRL was initially reluctant to stage the Test as it could detract from promotion of the trans-Tasman clash and also affect ticket sales.

NRL chief executive Todd Greenberg thanked the NZRL and the Rugby League Players Association for agreeing to terms.

Greenberg didn't comment on reports the Australian players have taken a cut in their match fees to help fund the Test.

"This is a fantastic result for all fans of rugby league and the continued growth of the international game," he said.

"Many people have worked tirelessly right around the globe to ensure this match takes place."

It was also announced Tonga will face New Zealand next year in June, with a date and venue still to be finalised.

Tonga coach Kristian Woolf was delighted his team's stunning run to the World Cup semi-finals has been acknowledged.

"We have been very vocal about wanting to play other tier-one countries. It's a wonderful opportunity," he said.

The Tonga Test will replace the scheduled fixture between New Zealand and England in Denver.

The NZRL has gone cold on the Denver concept, having not yet received payments from the match promoters following this year's inaugural Test there.


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