England v New Zealand: NRL-based England players support Denver Test in June

Sam Burgess leads out England team-mates in the Tonga World Cup semi-final last week

Head coach Wayne Bennett and Australia-based players including Sam Burgess and Gareth Widdop have voiced support for England’s June Test against New Zealand in the USA, despite ‘safety concerns’.

Several National Rugby League clubs have expressed player welfare fears because Denver’s Mile High stadium is 5,280 feet above sea level.

The fixture is scheduled on a designated representative weekend.

Spreading the game in the United States is a major goal for rugby league.

And a statement issued on behalf of Bennett and the English NRL contingent said: “We would like to place on record our absolute support.

“England Chief Medical Officer, Dr Chris Brookes, has made it clear to us that he has no additional concerns with this game being played in Denver.”

There are no club fixtures over the weekend of 23-24 June, with Australia-qualified players involved in the State of Origin competition and those from Tonga, Samoa and Papua New Guinea involved in the Pacific Test.

Bennett’s England played Samoa last year in a mid-season Test held at Sydney’s Campbelltown Stadium on 5 May.

And Burgess, plus brothers Tom and George from South Sydney Rabbitohs, St George-Illawarra’s James Graham and Widdop, Newcastle Knights’ Chris Heighington and Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson from Canberra Raiders are the NRL-based players who signed the statement backing the trip to Colorado.

The 2025 World Cup is expected to be hosted in North America, and following the introduction of Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack into the English game, it is now hoped that a team from New York will join them.

“We believe that the 2017 Rugby League World Cup in Australia demonstrated the value of the international game to our sport,” the statement continued.

“We all collectively said at the time that it was important we took the opportunity to try and grow the game globally and believe that this mid-season window provides the perfect opportunity for the sport to showcase itself to a new public in North America.”

Denver's Sports Authority Field at Mile High stadium<!–<!–[if lte IE 8]><![endif]–>

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