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NZ Rugby League sweats on unsold test tickets

Newshub logoNewshub 12/10/2018 Ben Meinung-Thompson
Boyd Cordner holding a pair of people posing for the camera: Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak & Kangaroos captain Boyd Cordner. © Image - Photosport, video - Newshub Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak & Kangaroos captain Boyd Cordner.

When the Kiwis run out onto Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday, it will be their first test against the Kangaroos in New Zealand since 2014.

But NZ Rugby League is worried poor ticket sales are putting the future of trans-Tasman clashes in New Zealand at more risk.

New Zealand take on their long-time rivals back at Mt Smart for the first time since 2006.

But with more than 10,000 seats unsold for Saturday's test, fans could be waiting just as long to see another.

"It's critical that we have more games and to have those, we need to be supported," says NZRL chief executive Greg Peters.

But support in the stands will only come if the Kiwis put out performances on the park

"I think the focus is on us," says new Kiwis captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak. "If we can do it for each other, I think the fans will get on board and ride the wave with us."

Peters is under no illusion over the task of rebuilding fan confidence, after the disastrous quarter-final exit from last year's Rugby League World Cup.

"We fully anticipate that we're going to have to take a bit of time to win the faith of the people back," he says.

Australia have faced the Kiwis on New Zealand soil just three times in the last 10 years.

"I think it's really important that we come to NZ and play," agrees Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga. "We don't play here that often.

"We need to give back to New Zealand rugby league, who have been struggling in recent times."

And they're doing just that, handing over a cut from next week's sold-out test against Tonga, also at Mt Smart.

"We did extract something from the NRL and the Australians to allow that match to go ahead in Auckland," says Peters..

A packed-out Mt Smart Stadium is, for now, the envy of NZ Rugby League.

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