Details announced for return of Lions

The RFL have confirmed that the Great Britain representative side will return for a four-match tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea this autumn.

The team will also play their first ever Test against Tonga, Wayne Bennett will be head coach and the schedule of matches will be confirmed later today.

It will be the first time Great Britain have played since the home series against New Zealand in the autumn of 2007, and their first appearance in the southern hemisphere since the 2006 Tri-Series.

The announcement revives a tradition which dates back to 1910, when the first touring team after the 1895 Northern Union breakaway were known as the Lions.

Further details of  support staff, squad, selection process, kit design, kick-off times and travel packages for the tour will follow “in the coming weeks”.

Wayne Bennett said: “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.”

RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer said: “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.

“We’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition as we build up to the tour through 2019.”

The return of Great Britain has been embraced by senior representatives of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Barry Coade, Chairman of Rugby League Ireland, said: “We are delighted that Great Britain & Ireland will tour again this Autumn.

“The tour looks like a real challenge given the rise of the Pacific nations and we think this is a big step forward for international Rugby League.”

Keith Hogg, the Chair of Scotland Rugby League, said: “Having the Great Britain team back is a boost for all of the home nations.

“We are proud of the contribution made by Scots to Great Britain Rugby League in the past, most obviously when Dave Valentine lifted the World Cup in 1954, and this announcement is a great incentive for young Scottish players to maintain that tradition in the future.”

Paul Chambers, General Manager of Wales Rugby League, said: “Wales Rugby League fully embrace and support the first Great Britain Rugby League tour to the Southern Hemisphere for many years.

“The whole concept of the Rugby League Lions adds another dimension to the ambitions of players and staff involved with all Home Nations and Wales Rugby League are looking forward to promoting and being involved in the process.”

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