With the increasing interest in rugby in Qatar, the country is set to witness another international event as the current Australian coach and former rugby league international Mal Meninga is considering an expression of interest to host an end-of-season Test in Qatar in October, several media reports from Australia indicated on Wednesday.
Meninga is exploring the possibility of a charity match against Tonga to raise money for the victims of Cyclone Gita. A proposal for the Kiwis to play a test in Denver looks to be shot down now that Qatar is on the radar, the reports said.
The Kiwis are set to play the Kangaroos in New Zealand at the end of the year in the first trans-Tasman clash on home soil since 2014, but Meninga suggests the game should be moved to the Middle East where the Kiwis could play the World Cup champions there as a warm-up for their three-test series against England in the UK.
It’s likely Doha would host the potential historic Test featuring Kangaroos stars Cameron Smith and Greg Inglis, at Khalifa International Stadium holding 40,000 fans.
The venue, which will also be used during the 2022 FIFA World Cup, is where the Socceroos lost the 2011 Asian Cup final 1-0 to Japan, it has been reported.
According to reports, Meninga has the support of the player. Given the timing of the proposed Test, it’s unlikely the NRL clubs will be opposed to the idea as some have been towards the mid-season Test between New Zealand and England in Denver during the standalone Origin II weekend. Meanwhile, Michael Ibrahim, Aqeeq Holdings' managing director is contemplating a rugby league nine’s (RL9’s) contest for the region with the support of the Qatar and Oman Olympic Committees, “I am hoping to meet officials from the QOC and OOC very soon to discuss this innovative competition and Aqeeq Holdings will be the main stakeholder for the event”.
“Hopefully the competition will feature teams from Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Nuie, the Philippines, Iran, Lebanon, Hong Kong, Oman and Qatar. It’s early days but we have started the planning and it’s going to be an exciting opportunity to spread the word about Rugby League internationally,” he said.
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