The NRL is proposing to revive Kangaroo tours of Great Britain as part of a revamp of the international calendar which includes the introduction of an international nines tournament.
ARL Commission chairman Peter Beattie and NRL CEO Todd Greenberg announced on Thursday a plan which they will take to the Rugby League International Federation in Singapore later this month.
Discussions will continue with the RLPA, NZRL and RFL and other key stakeholders before the calendar is finalised which includes a three-Test Kangaroo tour, slated to begin next year, along with new tournaments for emerging nations to compete with tier-one teams.
Beattie also announced the proposed calendar would include a new Oceania Cup round-robin tournament in 2019 featuring Samoa, New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga to be played in June and October, a Four Nations tournament to be held in the southern hemisphere in 2020 involving Australia New Zealand, Tonga and Samoa plus another in the northern hemisphere in the same year with England, Fiji, France and PNG.
"I said when I became chairman that unless the game expands it will die … and what we are doing is releasing a proposed four-year rolling strategy for the international game," Beattie said.
The last Kangaroo tour was in 2003, which Australia went through undefeated, and Greenberg said the plan was to make the tours a regular event.
"We want to establish a structure around a four-year period and potentially roll that forward, and swap things like Kangaroos tours and Lions tours so with one we might go there and then they might come here,” he said.
Whether the Kangaroos tours would also include lead-up games and matches in between Tests is yet to be determined.
"Clearly there is opportunity for warm-up games and opportunities for mid-week games…with some of the more provincial teams," Greenberg said.
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has his fingerprints all over the proposed schedule.
"Mal has been a significant contributor to this schedule and we’ve had lots of dialogue," Greenberg said.
"We can’t play enough of it when you talk to Mal Meninga, so we’ve tried to find the balance of playing more international footy but also balancing commercial interests and workloads of players.”
A Nines World Cup is slated for Parramatta in October next year while Beattie said expanding the game in the Pacific was a focus of the proposed calendar and the Oceania Cup would ensure international teams played for something meaningful.
"What we are trying to get is that spirit of State of Origin … and have a whole new spirit for this game in that region,” he said.
"We also have to expand the game in Europe. England is in a good spot but we need to do more about expanding the game in France."
He said the schedule proposed would ensure expansion in both the northern and southern hemispheres and facilitate a global competition.
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Greenberg said funding for the competitions would be provided by the establishment of the tournaments which would “drive some revenues” to put back into the international game.
The calendar does not include any plans for North America but that does not mean it will not be part of an expanded international schedule in future
"That is more a question for the international board,” Greenberg said.
"What we have tried to do is put a structure in place that uses a lot of NRL players and try to give more profile to some of these nations. There is a much bigger discussion that needs to happen around the international table."
Greenberg said the NRL was still in talks with broadcasters and clubs about launching a standalone game in North America to kick-start the Telstra Premiership season. He said he was "very hopeful of making that happen" and hoped to make an announcement on that in the next month.