Revived GB set for historic Test tour of Tonga, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea

GREAT BRITAIN – revived after an absence of 12 years – will play four Tests on a tour of the southern hemisphere this autumn including an historic first meeting with Tonga.

New Zealand's Epalahame Lauaki is tackled by Great Britain's James Roby (left) and Adrian Morley at Wigan back in 2007. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe/PA

England coach Wayne Bennett will lead the Lions on the trip to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea after the itinerary was finally confirmed.

Great Britain, who last toured in 2006, will face the Kiwis twice as well as the Kumuls and World Cup semi-finalists Tonga but prospective plans to face Samoa and Fiji were shelved due to costs.

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Details of where and when the Tests will be played are due to be revealed in Auckland overnight.

It will be the first time Great Britain have played since the home series against New Zealand in the autumn of 2007.

Bennett, who has been the England coach since 2016, said: “It’s an honour to be involved in the revival of the Great Britain team as head coach.

“I’ve coached against them in the past with Australia, and wherever you’re from in the world of rugby league, that Great Britain jersey is a famous one.

“And I’m sure the current generation of players will be excited by the prospect of wearing it and representing their country in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.

England head coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

“It’s an exciting prospect for international rugby league, and good to have that Great Britain tradition back.”

RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer added: “The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time so this is an exciting announcement for us.

“While the development of the England Performance Unit has been a priority and a success for the RFL, across Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League – and will continue to be as we build towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – there is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt.

“It’s great for the game to have it back.”