Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos won’t play England or the Lions in 2019.
Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos won’t play England or the Lions in 2019.

Bennett brushes off Kangaroos snub of GB

England or Great Britain won't play Australia next year in a Test match but Wayne Bennett is unconcerned by the omission.

Under a new global calendar proposed by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF) Board last week, the Great Britain Lions will face New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and Papua New Guinea in 2019 but not the Kangaroos.

It means Australia's long-awaited tour of the UK won't come until 2020, as the Kangaroos instead play in an Oceania Cup against Tonga and New Zealand at the end of next season.

More certainty has also been offered to Pacific nations, with Samoa, Fiji and PNG to face each other in the second tier of the tournament.

The schedule must still be run by both the major domestic leagues and players' unions for consultation before it is confirmed at the end of the year. Bennett had previously called on the RLIF to get the politics out of the sport and ensure more elite level Test rugby league is played.

After his England team went down 34-0 to New Zealand in the third Test in Leeds, the veteran coach said he was pleased with the outcome of the new calendar despite missing out on a World Cup final rematch with Mal Meninga's men.

"I haven't seen a lot of detail of it, but I'm happy if we're playing international rugby league next year," he said.

"That's what we should be doing. Australia and New Zealand, in particular Tonga, Samoa, the Pacific Island nations - they don't have an Origin series."

It's believed some of the Oceania Cup matches will be played during the NRL's representative round, meaning the schedule of Great Britain's Pacific opponents will be lessened at the end of the year.

Meanwhile the Kangaroos will play all of their matches after the NRL grand final, due to the unavailability of players during the Origin period.

"If Australia don't want to participate at the end of the year at certain times then that's their prerogative," Bennett said.

"We all need to keep international football strong and it's certainly in a good place at the moment and getting better.

"We need to play in these competitions and the players need to be exposed to it. It's all upside as far as I'm concerned."

The Lions have not played a match since 2007 and the last Lions tour in the southern hemisphere was as part of the Tri-Nations in 2006.

As part of the new calendar a Nines World Cup will also be staged in Australia next year.

News Corp Australia

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