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England and Samoa set for talks over proposed 2024 tour

It’s been confirmed today by International Rugby League that Samoa are set to re-enter talks with England about their prospective tour in 2024.

Following the conclusion of the Tonga tour, Shaun Wane’s men had a clear timeline that included Samoa in 2024, a trip to Australia to partake in the Ashes for 2025 and then the World Cup in 2026.

However that came crashing down when it was confirmed that Samoa would be pulling out of the proposed tour of England, something that Tonga head coach Kristian Woolf had hinted at during his final press conference in England.

The ex-St Helens boss had told the media that Samoa were also engaged in talks with Tonga, putting a cloud over the status of the Samoan tour of England.

Just weeks later and it was confirmed that the proposed tour in late 2024 had collapsed, leaving England without an opponent. Until now.

That’s because International Rugby League have facilitated meetings between both England and Samoa, with discussions set to re-open about the Pacific Islanders touring England in 2024, as initially planned.

It would be a huge deal if the tour can be arranged given that the last game between the two teams came in last year’s World Cup semi-final, during which Samoa won via a drop goal in golden point causing English heart-break.

Today’s statement from the IRL reads: “International Rugby League has facilitated a re-opening of discussions between Samoan and English officials about the Pacific nation touring England in 2024 to build on their rivalry from last year’s Rugby League World Cup.

“Rugby League Samoa officials agreed to re-engage with their English counterparts about a series in England at the end of next season following a meeting with IRL Chair Troy Grant on Monday.

“The IRL Board last Thursday discussed Samoa’s decision to decline an invitation to travel to the England next year and strongly encouraged the World Cup finalists to reconsider a proposal for the series.

“Mr Grant met with Toa Samoa team manager Hanan Laban in Brisbane, with Rugby League Samoa Executive President Fiu Faaolatane Ponifasio Vasa also involved in the meeting remotely.

“Mr Vasa gave a commitment to re-engage with the Rugby Football League about Samoa touring England in 2024.

“The IRL Chairman, who has also spoken with Samoa coach Ben Gardiner, praised the leadership of Mr Vasa and the new Rugby League Samoa Executive Board, who were elected in July.”

“I am excited by the new direction and vision of Rugby League Samoa, their improved capability and plans for the growth of rugby league in Samoa,” he said.

“It is pleasing that they understand how important Samoa is to the international rugby league family and I was very impressed by their positive approach towards helping to build the game in the Northern Hemisphere.”

The statement continued: “The IRL Board recently announced an International Calendar through to 2030, commencing this year with Tonga’s historic tour to England and the inaugural Pacific Championships, featuring New Zealand, Australia, Samoa, Papua New Guinea, Fiji and Cook Islands.

“It is hoped that Samoa will next year travel to England, whom they beat in extra-time at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium last November to become the first Tier 2 nation to reach a World Cup final.

“The European Rugby League is working on a Euros competition to coincide with the desired Samoan tour to England, giving the Northern Hemisphere the most international content in recent memory at the end of next season.

“England will then travel to Australia for the first Ashes series in 21 years at the end of the 2025 season, with Samoa re-joining the Pacific Championships.

“Mr Grant offered Samoa the support needed to ensure the Pacific nation can successfully and viably tour England in 2024 to provide international rugby league fans one of the most highly anticipated series in recent memory.”

“Rugby League Samoa will work with the IRL and RFL to understand any hurdles needed to overcome in making the tour a successful reality and continue to build on the wonderful legacy they have recently achieved,” he said.

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