All Blacks v Kangaroos cross-code blockbuster looks unlikely

Wellington (AFP)


Hopes for a cross-code blockbuster between the All Blacks and Australia's Kangaroos faded Thursday after New Zealand Rugby said they were focused instead on plans to host this year's Rugby Championship.

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga floated the idea last month of a 14-a-side 'Test' between the most successful national teams in rugby league and rugby union as a way to boost both sports' coronavirus-hit finances.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Mark Robinson initially confirmed talks were under way but said the priority was salvaging as many rugby union Tests as possible in 2020.

But he indicated interest had cooled Thursday after southern hemisphere governing body SANZAAR announced plans to hold this year's Rugby Championship in New Zealand.

Robinson said Australian rugby league officials had not followed up their initial inquiries and NZR's priorities now lay elsewhere.

"We haven't heard a lot in that space in recent times and we're not working on it actively, it's not something we're working towards with any great energy," he told reporters.

"Now that this opportunity (hosting the Rugby Championship) has presented we're focused on doing the best we can with that."

The match would have pitted rugby union's All Blacks -- with three World Cup wins and an 80 percent Test win ratio -- against an Australian side that has won rugby league's World Cup 11 times.

It would have generated huge interest, although some rugby union purists in New Zealand labelled the potential match-up a novelty that could cheapen the All Blacks' legacy.