Freeman Calls
For Return of 3 Test Series

Kiwi rugby league coach Gary Freeman today backed a call for a return to annual three-test series between New Zealand and Australia. New South Wales State of Origin coach Phil Gould said he wanted the Australian Rugby League to beef up its representative schedule in respect of both New Zealand and Great Britain.

The Kangaroos play a one-off test against Great Britain on July 12 in a rare appearance for the British in Sydney. They also meet the Kiwis in a single encounter in Wellington in October, after the National Rugby League grand final and before New Zealand's tour of Britain.

Freeman said he would love to have more tests against Australia, whom the Kiwis have faced only once since he took over as national coach more than a year ago.

The main issue was how the extra matches could be accommodated under the present schedule.

However, he didn't believe it was an insurmountable hurdle and had raised the matter with the NRL.

"I think everybody would like to see it go back to a three-test series," Freeman said.

"The hard part is how you fit it in. You've got the NRL, the State of Origin, Great Britain coming out and the grand final, and we've got a tour, so it's a fairly big year for everybody.

"But I would certainly love to see it go to three tests, whether they were played on Saturday, or on Wednesday night or Friday night to allow players to go back and play for their clubs."

The last time New Zealand and Australia faced off in a three-match series was in 1998, although they did meet three times in 1999 - once in an Anzac test and twice in a Tri-Nations tournament involving Great Britain.

The international calendar was one of the casualties of the Super League war and, earlier this year, officials developed a five-year plan for test matches.

Gould said he wanted test football to be given a higher profile than its present status of "a bit of an add-on".

"I'd like to see three tests against New Zealand every year," he said.

"And I'd like to see England out here more regularly."