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NEW ZEALAND KIWIS TO PLAY GREAT BRITAIN LIONS
The Great Britain Rugby League team will play a match against New Zealand on Tuesday 27th June 2006 in the UK.
The fixture will be staged at Knowsley Road Stadium, home of engage Super League side St Helens RLFC, and has been awarded full Test status by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF).
All participating players will be awarded international caps by their respective governing bodies.
The match will be Great Britain's first during a domestic season since the one off Test against Australia in Sydney in June 2002.
New Zealand Rugby League has confirmed their intention to select the strongest possible team with an obvious consideration being the impact of travel and time zone differences on NRL players.
New Zealand officials indicate that this is nothing new as they have always faced the same issue with regard to mid-season games played in the Southern Hemisphere.
The only difference with the New Zealand side to face Great Britain in June is likely to be the relative proportion of Northern and Southern Hemisphere based players.
This Test will be "business as usual for the Kiwis" according to Coach Brian McClennan, who points to the number and quality of New Zealanders playing on both sides of the globe.
Commenting on the news, the RFL's Executive Chairman Richard Lewis said: "This Test match against New Zealand will be an exciting and highly competitive event. "It will provide the Great Britain team with a tremendously importantand meaningful fixture which will greatly assist them in their preparations for the 2006 Gillette Tri-Nations tournament. It will also provide supporters with the ONLY opportunity to see the Lions in action in the UK during the current domestic season". Lewis added: "The match will further enhance Rugby League's international portfolio of events".
Sean McGuire Chief Executive of the St Helens club added: ""This will be the first Test Match at Knowsley Road since the 2000 World Cup and we are delighted to host a full Great Britain Test against the current Gillette Tri Nations champions. "We also look forward to working closely with the RFL and the management of the Great Britain team to ensure that this Test is a memorable occasion for the supporters of both teams and the wider Merseyside sporting public."
Chairman of the NZRL Selwyn Bennett said: "We are delighted that the Kiwis will be playing this mid-season Test against Great Britain and the match is sure to provide our players a fantastic opportunity to represent their country and play themselves into contention for the Gillette Tri Nations".
"The immediate focus is firmly on the match against Australia on the 5th of May but this is a very exciting initiative that we hope will develop into an annual fixture" says Bennett.