NRL opens discussions for union-style British Lions tour and expanded Four Nations

THE NRL has officially opened discussions about bringing a rugby union-style British Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand.

And The Sunday Telegraph can also reveal that future Four Nations tournaments may be increased to include another Pacific nation, possibly Papua New Guinea or even a second European team.

It is understood the Lions would play three Tests over three weekends, much like the British Lions union side do when touring Australia.

The Lions league team could also play two mid-week matches in NSW country and Queensland country.



The attacking football of the Four Nations has shown the hunger for international rugby l
The attacking football of the Four Nations has shown the hunger for international rugby league.
There is also a possibility the Lions could play a mid-week game against an NRL club, although it would out-of-season.

The earliest a Lions side could tour would be 2018 after the 2016 Four Nations in England and the 2017 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

A British Lions tour would become a wonderful addition to the international rugby league calender.

The Lions, while in the southern hemisphere, could also play Tests against New Zealand in New Zealand.

“We have had some preliminary discussions in recent times about how we could introduce a GB Lions tour,” said NRL general manager of league integration and game development, Andrew Hill.

“Any competition that involves Australia v Great Britain in any sport is always a success. It isn’t about increasing workload so we would have to change the current structure to look at a GB tour.”

This year’s Four Nations - with England playing, not Great Britain - has been a resounding success through some spectacular football, strong television ratings and record attendances.

The NRL though is looking to offer more Test football to Pacific nations. Samoa’s success this year has shown emerging nations can now match the elite nations.

An expanded Four Nations could include a team from either Tonga, Samoa, Cook Islands, PNG or Fiji.

“In line with our Pacific strategy, the NRL certainly wants to increase international rugby league for the Pacific nations,” Hill said.

“Looking at the success of Samoa in the Four Nations provides a great chance for us to look at further opportunities for them in a Four Nations or Pacific Cup.”

Australia will play a mid-season Test against New Zealand next year before having a free off-season.

Staurday night’s Four Nations final capped a gruelling 10-month season for some of the game’ elite players.