England will host New Zealand in a three-match Test series in the autumn of 2015 following a failure to reach agreement over a proposed Great Britain Lions tour to Australia.
While the news will be met with pleasure here – it is the only chance to see England in action on these shores before the 2016 Four Nations – it has caused problems for France who have had to abandon their planned tour of New Zealand at the end of next season.
England’s last meeting with the Kiwis was their heart-breaking last-minute defeat in last November’s World Cup semi-final at Wembley, although they will clash in Dunedin later this year when Australia and New Zealand host the 2014 Four Nations Series.
Coach Steve McNamara, whose current contract runs out this year, said: “We are looking forward to welcoming the Kiwis in 2015 and building on the rich tradition of international rugby league between the two nations.
“A three-match series against a team like New Zealand will provide an intensive test for us and, as history has shown, is guaranteed to bring out the best in the England players.”
Meanwhile, the RFL are set to confirm details of an expanded World Club Challenge in 2015 later today.
This season’s Super League Grand Finalists plus the competition’s highest-ranked team will be pitted against South Sydney Rabbitohs, Brisbane Broncos and the NRL’s own champions on February 20, 21 and 22.
The NRL will invite a third club if Souths or Brisbane win the Grand Final.
Sheffield Eagles have signed hooker Blake South, 22, from New South Wales Cup side North Sydney Bears for 2015.