Rugby League: Approval for Test series as friendly is cut

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The Independent Online
THERE IS mixed news from the other side of the world for the game's battered international calendar, the main casualty of four years of upheaval.

The meeting of the International Federation in Sydney has confirmed the Tri-Series between Australia, New Zealand and Great Britain this autumn, with a final at the new Olympic Stadium, which hosted a world record rugby league crowd last Saturday, on the first weekend of November.

But the match between Great Britain and New Zealand in Johannesburg the following week is now almost certain not to go ahead.

"The Rugby Football League and the New Zealand Rugby League are in a situation where it is important to make a profit on international football, rather than merely have their costs covered," explained the RFL's deputy chief executive, Dave Callaghan.

"The financial projections put together by the South African Rugby League demonstrate an element of risk which does not appear sustainable for a venture of this kind."

The match will become the second event in Johannesburg to be scrapped, following the cancellation of the World Nines scheduled for last month when the South Africans could not put together a television deal.

There is more positive news on the World Club Championship, with the chairman of Super League, Chris Caisley, who is in Sydney as part of the British delegation, confident that it can be restored to the international timetable this year and for the future.

The fixture between the British and Australian champions has been an on-off affair over the past decade and failed to take place at the end of last season because Wigan and Brisbane could not agree on a date.

But Caisley and the chief executive of Australia's National Rugby League, Neil Whittaker, have agreed in principle that the fixture should be a regular part of the calendar. It is hoped that a firm date will be set when Whittaker visits Britain in April.

Joe Faimalo is ready to spill blood to help Salford reach the semi-finals of the Silk Cut Challenge Cup for the third successive year. The former Oldham forward, who has been on the bench for the last two rounds, had 20 stitches inserted in a deep cut above his eye after the Reds' 30-12 home defeat by St Helens on Sunday.

But he intends to use headgear for the first time if he gets the nod from coach Andy Gregory and looks set for a key role in Saturday's televised quarter-final at Castleford. Gregory needs a replacement second-rower following the loss of the in-form Australian, Darren Brown, with a broken thumb.

The former Australian Test prop, Ian Roberts, who retired at the end of last season, has offered to play for the North Queensland Cowboys this season with his match fees going to charity.