New Zealand will face Super League giants Leeds Rhinos in a World Cup warm-up match just eight days before the tournament begins.
The game will take place at Headingley on Saturday, October 8. The Kiwis will play their opening World Cup group game against Lebanon in Warrington eight days later.
Michael Maguire’s side then face Jamaica in Hull. They return to Leeds for their final group match against Ireland on October 28.
NZRL chief executive Greg Peters said: “To face the Rhinos at Headingly to kick start our World Cup campaign is special.
“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.”
Leeds delighted to host New Zealand again
The Kiwis-Rhinos clash will continue a tradition between Leeds and the New Zealanders, dating back to 1907. The first-ever touring side, the All Golds, played at Headingley in the first of 12 meetings between the sides.
The most recent match came in 2015. The Kiwis won 34-16 in front of a sell-out crowd in West Yorkshire.
Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “To have been granted a game against one of our great test-playing nations is a huge honour and a privilege for Leeds Rhinos.
“International rugby league is the pinnacle of our sport. 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.
“Ourselves and the Kiwis have a long shared history and this will be the chance to write a new chapter.
“Our last meeting back in 2015 was a real ‘I was there’ moment with a number of former players making guest appearances including Ali Lauitiiti and Adrian Morley playing their final games as part of the occasion. I am sure we will have some surprises in store nearer the time.”
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