Rugby League World Cup 2021: England set for Fiji Test in Rochdale ahead of tournament

Fiji will provide the opposition for England in a pre-Rugby League World Cup clash in Rochdale on Friday, October 15.

Shaun Wane’s men will take on the three-time World Cup semi-finalists at the Crown Oil Arena eight days before this year’s tournament kicks off for the hosts against Samoa.

England’s preparations for the World Cup include a mid-season game against the Combined Nations All-Stars and head coach Wane is delighted to be taking on the nation who England last played in the 2013 tournament, winning 34-12.

“This fixture will be a vital part of our preparations for the World Cup, and I’d like to thank Rochdale Hornets and the Fiji National Rugby League for making this happen,” Wane said. “The Bati are a very talented side individually and collectively, and I wish them well at RLWC2021.”

The match is being played at the Crown Oil Arena as part of Rochdale Hornets’ 150th anniversary celebrations, as well as being a continuation of the club and town’s links with Fiji.

Those links stretch back more than 50 years following the arrival of four Fijian rugby players in the early 1960s, with Orisi Dawai and Josefa Levula becoming the first of their countrymen to play in England.

Voate Drui and Liatia Ravouvou soon followed and the strong connection between the club and the Pacific nation lives on as Mike Ratu senior, his son Emon and grandson Mike Jr all represented the Hornets, and Joe Taira is a current squad member.

The Crown Oil Arena hosted Fiji’s 32-14 win over Ireland during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup in front of a sell-out 9,000 crowd and it will be the first time England has featured in a sporting event in Rochdale since 1930.

“We’re delighted to announce our flagship event as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations,” Hornets chief executive Steve Kerr said. “To welcome Fiji back to Rochdale and continue our cultural links with the island nation is an absolute privilege and honour.

“Supporting Shaun Wane and his England team in their preparations ahead of the 2021 World Cup is simply incredible and the icing on the cake.

“I’d like to personally thank [RFL chief executive] Ralph Rimmer and the RFL, [Fiji National Rugby League CEO] Don Natabe, the World Cup team and the International Rugby League for helping to make this event possible.

“We now look forward to showcasing the game under the lights on a Friday night at a sell-out Crown Oil Arena.”

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