Rugby League: Watford may host New Zealand Test

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The Independent Online
HUDDERSFIELD, Bolton and Watford have all been earmarked as possible venues for a Test series against New Zealand that will add an international dimension to the coming season.

With plans for a World Cup or a triangular tournament in Australia apparently coming to nothing, a five-match tour by the Kiwis in November is now the likely option.

Although series between the two countries have traditionally been close and entertaining, New Zealand have not been a big enough draw to justify the use of stadia like Wembley, Old Trafford and Elland Road - where Great Britain played Australia last year.

But medium-sized grounds like the McAlpine Stadium and the Reebok Stadium are seen as ideal, whilst Watford's Vicarage Road - already home to Saracens - is close enough to London to draw on the expatriate New Zealand community there. Watford are already bidding for one of Super League's fixtures "on the road" in July.

"We cannot yet confirm the venues, but the plans are already well advanced," said a Rugby League spokesman. New Zealand beat Great Britain 3-0 in the series there in 1996 and also won one of their Tests against Australia last year.

Swansea, who also hope to stage a Super League game in July, have submitted an application for a Super League side of their own from next season.

St Helens are considering taking their match against Warrington to Anfield on 26 April. A similar experiment against Castleford drew over 12,000 to Anfield last year - Saints' biggest "home" gate of the season.

Meanwhile, Warrington's Adam Fogerty will be fit for his side's more immediate appointment against Saints, his former club. The two sides meet in the Challenge Cup on 28 February and Fogerty says he will have recovered from the thigh muscle injury that kept him out of the fourth-round victory over Wakefield.

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