The Australian Super League side will tour Britain and France next October and November, with three Tests and probably three club games in England. Strictly speaking, it should be New Zealand's turn to tour, but after the loss of Great Britain's tour to Australia this summer, the board's chairman, Maurice Lindsay, felt it necessary to revive the tradition of Ashes Test matches, albeit without players contracted to the rival Australian Rugby League.
There is another cost involved in the change: the next World Cup, scheduled for Great Britain next autumn, will take place in Australia in 1998. The tournament will be run in pools, with matches also planned for Papua New Guinea and New Zealand, although as yet there is no decision on how many teams will take part or whether the British representation will be as Great Britain or individually as England and Wales.
An announcement on how the British and Australian Super Leagues will dovetail their domestic competitions together is expected next week, although Lindsay hinted that a system more complicated than a top four play-off between the two countries was being considered.
Noa Nadruku, the Fijian captain who withdrew from their Test side in a row over money shortly before their match against Great Britain two weeks ago, will face disciplinary action. "Players cannot simply be allowed to disregard international commitments," said Lindsay, although he had some trouble explaining where that principle leaves players who are moonlighting in rugby union rather than playing in Great Britain's series against the Kiwis.
South Africa have been given back their full membership of the international board which they had suspended after last year's World Cup. Plans are afoot for a series against France.
The Great Britain coach, Phil Larder, may have to call up one or more members of the Academy squad in New Zealand to make up the numbers for the Lions' final midweek match, against a Maori side next Tuesday. During preparations for today's first Test against the Kiwis, four Lions wingers, Alan Hunte, Joey Hayes, Jason Critchley and Jon Roper, received treatment. Danny Arnold, of St Helens, or the Academy captain, Nathan McAvoy, are the obvious contenders to be borrowed.