After beating Tonga in three game Test Series across October and November, things were looking up for England but that all came crumbling down shortly after the conclusion of the series at Leeds Rhinos’ AMT Headingley Stadium.
The series marked the first real test of Shaun Wane’s side since their heart breaking loss in the World Cup semi-final against Samoa in 2022 as well as the first step towards the 2026 World Cup.
England won the series 3-0 with the promise of another series in 2024 this time against Samoa in a chance for revenge.
The series against Tonga has been a feisty one throughout with a war of words between Shaun Wane and Kristian Woolf brewing throughout. It looked like Wane had of course won the war but it may have been Woolf who had the last laugh.
In his final press conference after the whitewash defeat, he warned the British press that England may not get what they wanted in 2024. This would seemingly come to pass with Samoa pulling out of the Test Series for next year to instead compete alongside Tonga, Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific Championships which took place in 2023 without Tonga being won by New Zealand.
This was a devastating blow to England’s World Cup preparations and came from a change of management within the Samoan camp after the departure of Matt Parish. This new management had moved towards the Pacific Championships and pulled out.
However, the IRL Board encouraged Samoa to reconsider and now according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s Christian Nicolussi the series is back on the table with the World Cup finalists being given financial help to make it happen.
This means the Pacific Cup will again be a tri-nations battle this time between Australia, New Zealand and Tonga who will swap places with Samoa.
The details of this potential series are yet to be ironed out but this is a massive boost for RL Commercial and Shaun Wane ahead of the 2026 World Cup.
It has already been confirmed that England will take on Australia in the Ashes in 2025 which is set to become a more frequent occurrence with a series set for after the World Cup as well.