England take on France in their first step towards the 2025 World Cup.
However, perhaps the more important step is the test series at the end of the year which has long been up in the air.
Thanks to the CBA negotiations in Australia around the NRL, any agreement was delayed.
Add to that a late move by Australia and New Zealand to put together a Four Nations that would exclude England from it and there were more than a few doubts hanging over the series.
However, it has now been confirmed that England will take on former St Helens boss Kristian Woolf and his Tonga side in a three game series at the end of the year at Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley Stadium, Huddersfield Giants’ John Smith’s Stadium and St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium.
The game at St Helens is scheduled for the Totally Wicked Stadium, Sunday 22 October, Huddersfield’s game at the John Smith’s Stadium is Saturday 28 October and the game at Leeds is at Headingley Stadium on Saturday 4 November.
Tonga last played England in this country in the 2006 Federation Shield Final – won by 32-14 by England – and the two did not meet again until the November 2017 when the Polynesians, trailing 20-0 with only seven minutes remaining, came within a whisker of overturning the deficit and denying England a final place at the death, eventually losing 20-18.
Two years later the Tongans would emphatically announce themselves as a force on the international stage, with outstanding victories over Australia and Great Britain. With the three-time Super League-winning coach Kristian Woolf at the helm and the outstanding NRL forward Jason Taumalolo likely to be in his squad, Tonga will present a significant challenge to Shaun Wane’s side.