NRL clubs urged to support England-New Zealand Denver Test
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 26/03/18 3:46pm
England coach Wayne Bennett and his Australia-based players are lobbying NRL clubs to support the historic Test match in Denver.
The Rugby Football League has taken the unusual step of issuing a letter on behalf of Bennett and the eight NRL-based England internationals urging their clubs to throw their weight behind the June 23 match against New Zealand in Colorado.
Both the RFL and NZRL have agreed to the match, which is being held during the international mid-season window and promoted by Australian Jason Moore as part of the build-up to the 2025 World Cup due to be held in the United States and Canada.
The move has been criticised by the NRL clubs and the Australian players' association, who point to the logistical problems created by the travel involved as well as the difficulties of playing a match at high altitude.
However, England doctor Chris Brookes has allayed fears over playing at Denver's Mile High Stadium and Bennett says an adequate insurance policy has been put in place.
The letter says: "We would like to place on record our absolute support for the upcoming Rugby League International game between England and New Zealand, scheduled to be played in Denver in June.
"We believe that the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Australia demonstrated the value of the international game to our sport.
"We all collectively said at the time that it was important we took the opportunity to try and grow the game globally and believe that this mid-season window provides the perfect opportunity for the sport to showcase itself to a new public in North America.
"While we understand that there have been some concerns regarding player welfare, the England Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Brookes, has made it clear to us that he has no additional concerns with this game being played in Denver and the insurance that has now been put in place is more comprehensive than any other in the history of International Rugby League.
"We have spoken with our English-based team-mates who have received the full support of their Super League clubs and we are all in agreement that it is important that this game takes place.
"We are looking forward to meeting up as a squad in June and, if selected, walking out in Denver to take on New Zealand."
The letter is signed by Bennett and players George Burgess, Sam Burgess, Tom Burgess (all South Sydney), James Graham, Gareth Widdop (both St George Illawarra), Chris Heighington (Newcastle), Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead (both Canberra).