England to play New Zealand in annual mid-season tests

England and New Zealand will have an annual mid-season test in 2018 and beyond, the RLIF has confirmed – with Wayne Bennett dropping the strongest hint yet he will remain on as coach beyond this year’s World Cup.

Bennett was in Auckland to promote the World Cup yesterday and revealed plans for his side to play the Kiwis in a Test that will replace the ANZAC Test meeting between New Zealand and Australia.

“With the international calendar that has come out recently that will happen,” Bennett said.

“We will be playing New Zealand in a mid-year test not when the origin match is on a Sunday, starting next year.

“I think the mid-year Test will be a help to us because we play more games as an international team. Australia get a huge advantage through the Origin, New Zealand get an advantage because they have been playing the mid-year Tests against Australia on a regular basis and England have got to start to do more of that.”

New Zealand coach David Kidwell welcomed the possibility of the Kiwis hosting more Tests.

“I am really looking forward to the Kiwis playing some Tests here in New Zealand in front of their home fans and their friends and their families,” Kidwell said.

“We haven’t played a Test here since 2014 and we have got Samoa here on October 28 who are going to be a really formidable opponent and we are looking forward to some exciting football.”