Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium will host a double-header to open the end-of-season 2014 Four Nations tournament ahead of a first ever final for the event in New Zealand.
NRL Head of Football, Todd Greenberg, joined QRL Chairman Peter Betros and CEO Rob Moore, Holden Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens, Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney and Broncos Test stars Sam Thaiday (Australia), Jack Reed (England) and Alex Glenn (New Zealand) in Brisbane on Tuesday to unveil the tournament schedule.
The seven-match tournament will also feature games in Melbourne, Wollongong, Dunedin and Whangarei, ahead of a first Four Nations Final in New Zealand, in the capital Wellington.
The 2014 tournament includes World Champions and Four Nations holders Australia, co-hosts New Zealand, England and the winner of the mid-season Pacific Test between Fiji and Samoa to be played at Penrith, in Sydney’s west, on Saturday, May 3. Tickets for this match went on sale this week.*
The Suncorp Stadium double-header will mark the first meeting between Australia and New Zealand in Brisbane since the Kiwis’ stunning final-minute triumph over the Holden Kangaroos in the final of the 2010 Four Nations tournament.
“The Four Nations double-header at Eden Park in 2010 exceeded all expectations and we have also seen how well fans have embraced the double-header concept in the Telstra Premiership in Brisbane,” Mr Greenberg said.
“This is one of the great venues in sport and it will be an exciting way to launch the tournament.
“The World Cup in the United Kingdom last year showcased the growing strength of international Rugby League.
“The semi-final in particular between England and New Zealand was one of the great Test matches of all time and it will be great for fans here in Australia and New Zealand to have the opportunity to watch all four teams in action.”
Queensland Assistant Tourism Minister, Mr Gavin King, said hosting the opening round of the Four Nations is an exclusive opportunity to see the top four international Rugby League teams battle it out in Brisbane in back-to-back matches on Saturday, 25 October.
“This fantastic event, hosting thousands of Rugby League fans gives our local tourism industry a chance to shine,” Mr King said.
“Support for events like the Rugby League Four Nations tournament is part of our Government’s plan to double annual overnight visitor expenditure from $15 billion to $30 billion by 2020.
“Queensland is a great state with great opportunity and the opening round played in Brisbane will see the city broadcast nationally and overseas into New Zealand, the UK and the Pacific Islands.”
The staging of the Four Nations Final in Wellington follows the success of the Four Nations double-header at Auckland’s Eden Park in 2010, as well as the stunning support from fans for the inaugural Dick Smith NRL Auckland Nines.
As part of the NRL, NZRL and Warriors’ commitment to enhancing the continuing growth of Rugby League in New Zealand, Telstra Premiership matches will also be played in Auckland, Hamilton and Wellington this season.
“Bearing in mind we will be co-hosting the World Cup with Australia in four years, this is a great opportunity for us to show our capability,” NZRL Chief Executive, Mr Phil Holden, said.
“But it’s also a huge challenge, both on and off the field. On one front, we may be up against the other three semi-finalists from last year’s World Cup, with England, in particular, itching to avenge their semi-final loss to us at Wembley.
“And then we’re looking for Wellingtonians to show their passion for Rugby League, regardless of whether the Kiwis are in the final or not.
“Auckland has already shown it’s ready for major World Cup fixtures, after successfully hosting the NRL Nines.
“Wellington prides itself as a sporting mecca and we’re confident local fans can also support an international spectacle of this calibre.”
The NSW Minister for Sport and Recreation, Ms Gabrielle Upton, applauded the decision to host one of the Four Nations Test matches in Wollongong.
“Having the Kangaroos playing at WIN Stadium is an absolute bonus for Rugby League fans in the Illawarra,” she said.
“The NRL could have scheduled this match in Sydney, but they have decided to reward fans in Wollongong and the region for their lifelong support of Rugby League.
“I have had ongoing conversations with the NRL about the importance of playing big matches at WIN Stadium, and this historic decision to schedule the first ever Kangaroos Test match there is a terrific outcome.”