Rugby league: Huddersfield centre stage for Four Nations

The Four Nations trophy at the John Smith's Stadium Huddersfield
The Four Nations trophy at the John Smith's Stadium Huddersfield

England’s opening game, against defending champions New Zealand, will be at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday, October 29, and Coventry’s Ricoh Arena will stage international rugby league for the first time with a double-header a week later.

England will return to London’s Olympic Stadium for the eagerly-anticipated game with Australia on Sunday, November 13, and Workington and Hull KR will host Scotland’s games against the Kangaroos and Kiwis after plans to take games north of the border were shelved.

The RFL was desperate to return to the Olympic Stadium after a crowd of 44,393 watched last November’s Test match between England and New Zealand, and to also take the game to new areas.

Anfield was the venue for the 1991 World Club Challenge when a crowd of 20,152 turned out for a Tuesday night game between Wigan and Penrith, and St Helens were pleased with an attendance of 12,329 for a one-off league game at the same stadium against Castleford in 1997.

The Ricoh Arena, home to both rugby union club Wasps and Coventry City FC, will host rugby league for the first time next month when Coventry Bears take on Keighley.

The Bears’ Kingstone Press League One match on Sunday, May 8, has been switched from their normal Butts Park Arena as part of plans to make the city of Coventry a rugby stronghold.

Four Nations tournament director Jon Dutton said: “We are delighted with the venues selected for the 2016 Four Nations and we are sure that the tournament will deliver compelling and memorable action on the field.

“Anfield is an iconic sporting venue and I am certain that all teams will be determined to reach the final to play in front of what will be a very special atmosphere.”

England’s new head coach Wayne Bennett said: “I’m excited to begin work with this England team. The venues selected for our games in the Four Nations tournament are world class and I hope that the English fans will be out in force to support us and that we can do them proud on the field.”