Great Britain revived for tour... but they will NOT face Australia

Sam Tomkins has never played for Great Britain
Sam Tomkins has never played for Great Britain

A Great Britain tour to the southern hemisphere in 2019 has been given the go-ahead - but the Lions will NOT face Australia.

The tour, which the Rugby League International Federation board says is subject to consultation with the major playing leagues and the players’ representatives, is part of an eight-year rolling contract approved in principle.

The Lions will not meet Australia, who will tour England in 2020, but will play matches against New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea.

England have not faced the Kangaroos this year, meaning by the time they next clash, nearly three years will have passed between meetings.

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said: “These are exciting times for the sport in general and particularly the chance we have to both take a Great Britain team to the southern hemisphere next year and then welcome the Kangaroos in 2020.

“There is still some discussion to complete on 2019 but everything looks to be moving in a positive direction.”

The GB side last played in 2007 and the national team has played as England since.

The RLIF unveiled plans for a two-division Oceania Cup in 2019, with Australia, New Zealand and Tonga playing in one group and Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea the other.

The board also confirmed that Australia will host the inaugural Nines World Cup in 2019 and approved financial support for the Americas Championship and a new competition for nations in the Middle East and Africa.

RLIF chief executive Nigel Wood said: “The whole international rugby league world has looked to us to complete this important piece of work.

“The discussions this week have been extremely collaborative and positive.

“This is a complex process and, if we can put all the pieces of the jigsaw into place, we will have a very exciting programme.

“There is some further consultation to be undertaken with leagues and playing groups together with some important commercial evaluations before we could make final announcements, however we are confident that we can complete these discussions before Christmas.”