With the second half of the year well under way, a decision on whether Tonga will play Australia needs to be made sooner rather than later, according to Mate Ma’a coach Kristian Woolf.
A report by Daily Telegraph last night said the test has been confirmed to be held in Auckland, New Zealand on October 20, 2018 but Kaniva could not be able to confirm this.
As Kaniva Tonga News reported recently, the NZRL calendar remains free of any sign of the game which Tonga hoped to stage in Auckland.
Several media outlets have blamed the New Zealand Rugby League of deliberately blocking the game and making sure it does not take place on this side of the ditch.
Wolf said there was interest from the Queensland Government and the Suncorp stadium in Brisbane, but there were still financial hurdles in the way.
He told Radio New Zealand today that the later in the year the game was held, the less financially viable it became.
Woolf said any decision about holding the much anticipated game needed to made in the next couple of days.
A report on the Australian National Rugby League site in May said details of the clash needed to be finalised by August 30.
RNZ quoted Woolf as saying it was more likely the game would be played in Australia to make sure it was financially viable.
He described the position of the New Zealand Rugby League as “disappointing” and said the process of trying to find a venue for a game everybody seemed to want to see had been deeply frustrating.
In contrast, Australian coach Mal Meninga had been extremely supportive.
“As soon as I mentioned it to Mal Meninga it was something that he jumped at straight away and he’s really pushed it and really helped the process along the way,” he said.
Other venues proposed for the game have included New York and Honolulu.
Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported last year that negotiations were under way to stage the game in Honolulu’s 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium.
Last month the Fiji Times quoted Jason Taumalolo as saying the Tonga-Australia match was vital to the standing of Pacific Islands rugby nations.
“The only way we’re up with those top-tier nations is if we’re playing them,” he said.
Meanwhile, there is talk of two separate Four Nations tournaments being played next year 2020, with Australia, New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa in one and England, France, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in the other.
Woolf said all teams had to be treated equally.
“What I wouldn’t support is that the Pacific nations all play each other again and the winners play one of your tier one nations,” he said.
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