A controversial Test match between England and New Zealand in Denver in June has been officially confirmed, despite strong opposition from NRL clubs.
The Kiwis and England will clash at Mile High Stadium in Colorado on June 23.
The game is being used to help promote the 2025 World Cup, which will be held in North America.
England head coach Wayne Bennett said his team needs to be involved in these types of mid-season Test clashes to continue to improve.
"For us to grow stronger as a group and build on the progress of last year, these are the games we need to be involved in," he said in a statement.
"We saw the benefits of taking on Samoa mid-season ahead of the World Cup. We hear people talking about growing the game and this is the perfect opportunity to take two of the world’s elite nations over to a country that loves sport and entertainment.
“Denver will be a good fit for the game – they have popular American football, basketball, baseball, hockey and football sides, so it seems there’s a real appetite for sporting events and to experience something new in this city.
“This game has come at the right time for New Zealand who’ll be looking to improve on last year’s quarter-final exit from the World Cup. One point was the difference between us the last time we played so we’re expecting another physical battle.”
U S A 🇺🇸 U S A— England Rugby League (@England_RL) February 27, 2018
Can’t wait to play here in June 😏 pic.twitter.com/DMyUXFJNJS
The Test will be played during an NRL bye weekend for the second State of Origin match. Despite that NRL clubs remain opposed to their players flying to the United States for the game.
The New Zealand Rugby League has said it will work with NRL and Super League clubs to ensure their players receive the best preparation and care. NRL clubs are expected to fined if they don't release their players, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Kiwi forward Simon Mannering has given his support to the match.
"It's a great concept and one I wish was around five years ago when I was a bit younger. Growing our game internationally has to be a priority – think of the opportunities we could create for our game if it was a genuine international sport played all over the world," he said.
"I know it'll be tough for some NRL clubs to see the importance at first, but if we really care about the game, then I think it's something we have to support. I definitely will."