Great Britain return to face New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and Tonga

The iconic Great Britain jersey will return to the international stage this autumn.
The recent meeting of the Rugby League International Federation confirmed a four-match tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea for the Great Britain Rugby League Lions – with full details of the schedule to be released in Auckland tonight.
It will be the first time Great Britain have played since the home series against New Zealand in the autumn of 2007, and their first appearance in the southern hemisphere since the 2006 Tri-Series – reviving a tradition which dates back to 1910, when the first touring team after the 1895 Northern Union breakaway were known as the Lions.
In addition to two Tests against the Kiwis and one against the Kumuls – the latter a first in Papua New Guinea since 1996 – Great Britain will play their first ever Test against the Tonga team who made such an impact in the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, including in a stirring semi final against England in Auckland.
Wayne Bennett, who has been the England coach since 2016, will be the head coach of the 2019 Rugby League Lions, with further details of his support staff, the composition of the squad and the selection process, the kit design, and kick-off times and travel packages for the tour to follow in coming weeks.
“It’s an honour to be involved in the revival of the Great Britain team as head coach,” said Bennett.
“I’ve coached against them in the past with Australia, and wherever you’re from in the world of Rugby League, that Great Britain jersey is a famous one – and I’m sure the current generation of players will be excited by the prospect of wearing it and representing their country in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
“It’s an exciting prospect for international Rugby League, and good to have that Great Britain tradition back.”
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League, said:“The return of the famous Great Britain jersey is something people have been talking about for a long time – so this is an exciting announcement for us.
“It’s 12 years since Great Britain last played a Test, and 13 since they last travelled to the southern hemisphere, for the Tri-Nations series of 2006.
“While the development of the England Performance Unit has been a priority and a success for the RFL, across Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair Rugby League – and will continue to be as we build towards the 2021 Rugby League World Cup – there is such history and tradition around that Great Britain shirt.
“It’s great for the game to have it back, as part of the schedule drawn up by the RLIF also including the Oceania Cup. We’ll be committed to respecting and honouring that tradition as we build up to the tour through 2019.”
The announcement has also been welcomed by senior figures from Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Barry Coade, Chairman of Rugby League Ireland, said: “We are delighted that Great Britain & Ireland will tour again this Autumn. The tour looks like a real challenge given the rise of the Pacific nations and we think this is a big step forward for international Rugby League.”
Keith Hogg, the Chair of Scotland Rugby League, said: “Having the Great Britain team back is a boost for all of the home nations. We are proud of the contribution made by Scots to Great Britain Rugby League in the past, most obviously when Dave Valentine lifted the World Cup in 1954, and this announcement is a great incentive for young Scottish players to maintain that tradition in the future.”
Paul Chambers, General Manager of Wales Rugby League, said: “Wales Rugby League fully embrace and support the first Great Britain Rugby League tour to the Southern Hemisphere for many years. The whole concept of the Rugby League Lions adds another dimension to the ambitions of players and staff involved with all Home Nations and Wales Rugby League are looking forward to promoting and being involved in the process.”

Adam Walker joins Salford Red Devils

In today’s edition of the Manchester Evening News, it was exclusively revealed that prop-forward Adam Walker has joined Salford Red Devils.
Walker hasn’t played since testing positive for cocaine whist at Wakefield Trinity in 2017, but the now reformed character has the chance to make an impact once again; an opportunity that isn’t lost on him.
The 27-year-old said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have a club for the 2019 season and I’m extremely grateful to Salford Red Devils for giving me this opportunity.
“From day one speaking to Director of Rugby and Operations Ian Blease and Head Coach Ian Watson I could see that Salford – as a Club – have some real strong beliefs and values that centre around the community and doing good in the local area. I knew straight away that this was the kind of club I wanted to be at.
“I’ve not been perfect in the past. I don’t think anyone is. But you need to learn from your mistakes and develop as a person and player afterwards.
“It’s been a tough few years for myself not being able to play the sport I love on a regular basis. I was suffering from some mental health issues at the time which in turn led to me making a big mistake. I don’t want to use that as an excuse, I accepted and learnt from my punishment.
“In my time away from the game I feel like I’ve matured a lot. I honestly feel I’ve turned the corner, I’ve regained my love for the sport back and I’m ready for the next chapter.
“At a club like Salford, I’ve got the best opportunity to continue to grow as a person by going into the community, talking about the lessons I’ve learnt and promoting Rugby League in a positive manner.
“The sport of Rugby League has been very good to me. The support I received from the RFL, in particular Emma Rosewarne, was brilliant and really helped me on my road to recovery. I’ve now been offered a second chance and it’s up to me to make sure I grab it with both hands.”
Bradford-born Walker began his career with Huddersfield Giants but spent the majority on loan with Barrow Raiders and Swinton Lions. However, it was at Hull Kingston Rovers where the forward made his name while also being a regular for the Scottish National side.
Walker said: “I was playing at the highest and most consistent level I’ve ever competed at four or five years ago and I was loving every minute of it.
“During my time at Hull Kingston Rovers I managed to draw attention from Australia and even spoke to Melbourne Storm, but I decided to see out my contract at Hull. Chris Chester was very supportive of me and that helped massively. Of course, I got the move to St Helens and then eventually Wakefield, both of whom are great Super League clubs.
“I was also in the Scotland National side on a regular basis and for that to slip away because of a silly decision whilst at Wakefield was massively disappointing but it has only made me hungrier now to turn things around and strive to get back to where I want to be.”
Due to his suspension, Walker is yet to train with the Red Devils but has no concerns about catching up on pre-season and returning to the field in top condition.
Walker said: “I know I’ve a lot of work to do. I’ve not been able to train but once I’m allowed to get back on the field regularly.
“I know the Head Strength and Conditioning – Greg Brown – from my time with Swinton and I know he will get the best out of me physically. I’ll be pushing myself further than I have before to ensure I’m ready for my first game back whenever that may be.”
Adam Walker will be available to play for the Red Devils in March.
Salford Red Devils return to action for the first time in almost four months on Saturday as they clash with local rivals Swinton Lions at the The Salford Stadium, 1pm kick-off. Tickets are available at the The Salford Stadium, over the phone and online HERE.

Red Devils feature in World Cup victories

Salford’s Manu Vatuvei and Tyrone McCarthy both featured in respective victories for their countries on matchday one of the Rugby League World Cup.
Vatuvei, who has previously won the tournament with New Zealand, was named at full-back for Tonga in a comfortable 50-4 victory over Scotland.
Micheal Jennings was the Man of the Match crossing for a hat-trick of tries alongside scores from Jason Taumalolo, Sika Manu, Daniel Tupou and Peni Terepo. Danny Addy got the Bravehearts on the scoresheet but Steve McCormack’s side couldn’t handle the powerful Tongans.
McCarthy came off the interchange bench in Ireland’s surprise win over Italy in Cairns on Sunday morning. Toronto winger Liam Kay scored twice out wide either side of a George King effort. Saints duo Kyle Amor and Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook both crossed as well as Michael Morgan in the second half.
Justin Castellaro scored a 70-metre interception try for the Italians before Nathan Milone went over but the Azzurri couldn’t stir a comeback.
Ireland travel to Port Moresby to face a Papua New Guinea side full of confidence following their hammering of Wales while Italy face the USA.

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