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Push to bring back league's Lions

Press Association logoPress Association 2/05/2017

Rugby League International Federation chairman Nigel Wood will head to Sydney this week on a mission to bring back the Lions.

The Great Britain team was disbanded after the tour by New Zealand in 2007, but, sensing a groundswell of support for the return of the Lions tours, officials have paved the way for a trip in 2019 and Wood hopes it will be rubber-stamped at a Federation meeting in Sydney.

"It's a real possibility," Wood told BBC Radio 5 live's rugby league podcast. "It's not a foregone conclusion, but I wouldn't be having this discussion if I didn't have a degree of confidence."

International delegates will finalise the calendar for the three years between this year's World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and the 2021 event in England.

On the table is a possible tour to the UK by the Kiwis in 2018, followed by a Lions tour down under in 2019 and a first Kangaroo tour to the UK in 2020, which would bridge a gap of 17 years.

Since 2007, Scotland, Wales and Ireland have played under their own banners and Wood also wants to see more matches between the tier two nations and the big three.

"We want to give them access to playing against England, Australia and New Zealand," said Wood, who is also chief executive of the Rugby Football League.

"We saw last year, for example, how spectacularly well Scotland did. But France have only played against Australia once in the last 10 years.

"There's a log-jam in terms of the aspirant nations that we're trying to improve and get stronger and put more quality and depth in the World Cup."

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