A long hard season finally ended on Sunday when England took on New Zealand in the third test at Elland Road. While the players turn their dreams of tropical beaches into reality, the fans thoughts turn to 2019 and how their side might fare in the cut and thrust of the new domestic season.

We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.

The series win already under their belt, England travelled to Elland Road looking for the whitewash against a New Zealand side who were determined to at least get something out of the three tests.

England were forced into three changes with Sam Tomkins, Daryl Clark, and George Burgess unavailable for selection. Richie Myler, Joe Greenwood and Stefan Ratchford took their places. Last weekends hat-trick hero, and recently named Golden Boot winner, Tommy Makinson would be looking to further add to his tally as the large crowd were looking to celebrate the series win.

The fear was that England would take their eye off the ball, but it would be a massive confidence boost if they were to make it a first ever series whitewash over New Zealand.

The Super League XXIV fixtures were released a lunchtime so plans can now be made for the 2019 season which will kick off with the reigning champions the Wigan Warriors, against the minor premiers St Helens, in an opening round containing two televised derby games.

The opening fixture will be televised by SKY on the 31st January as a twenty-nine round programme gets underway including the six much discussed ‘loop’ fixtures.


While the end of season international calendar enters its final week there is plenty of other news around the game to keep the fans interested as we head towards the cold, dark, winter months and anticipate what the 2019 season may bring.

We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed to keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.

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England had the chance to seal a series win over New Zealand, for the second time in four years, as the two sides met for a Sunday afternoon encounter at Anfield in Liverpool.

With skipper Sean O’Loughlin out injured it was down to veteran star James Graham to marshall his troops against what was sure to be a New Zealand onslaught as they looked to level the series ahead of next weekends game at Elland Road in Leeds.

The Kiwi’s were slight favourites with the bookies but there was very little to choose between the two sides whose only changes from last week were both at loose forward.

The domestic season may be over with clubs having turned their thoughts to season ticket sales, while the players are enjoying hard –earned holidays with their families and resting their battered bodies, but the rugby league scene is far from hibernation with plenty going on to get the fans talking.

We’ve had a look back at the news over the last week to pick up on stories which you might have missed, to ensure that you keep your finger on the pulse of what is happening inside the greatest game.

The eagerly anticipated opening fixture of the three match test series against New Zealand saw England in Hull at the KCOM Stadium for the crucial first instalment.

England won the mid-season game against the Kiwi’s in Denver by 36-18 but would have to do without the likes of Gareth Widdop, Luke Gale and Ryan Hall. New Zealand travelled to England on the back of a two point victory over Australia a fortnight ago and made just one change to that winning side.

The tourists were the slight favourites with the bookies but there was little to choose between the two sides, the stage was set for a classic.

With no Wigan or Warrington players, eight debuts and a late call up for Richie Myler at half-back to replace the injured Luke Gale, there was little about tonight’s England game against France at the Leigh Sports Village could barely be classed as a full-blooded warm-up for the impending three match series against New Zealand. Debutants Shaul, Johnstone, Lyne and Holmes made the starting line up while all four substitues for England would also gain their first cap for a side with just one loss in their last six matches as they came up against a France side who themselves have only managed one win in their last six outings. Places were up for grabs for the New Zealand series as Wayne Bennett took a last look at his side in what should be a realtively straighforward run out in Leigh.

A place in the Championship was up for grabs as Leon Pryce’s Workington Town travelled down the M6 to take on Stuart Littler’s Swinton Lions in the last game of the domestic season. Having finished bottom of the Championship ladder the Lions knew that they would be up against as they welcomed the side who pushed York and Bradford all the way in Championship One and now hoped to join them in the second tier next season. This crucial game was being held at Swintons home ground of Haywood Road in Sale as the lower division side were forced to travel. The two sides last met over two years ago when Swinton won by 19-12, but with Swinton not having won in their last four, this was anyones game as the Lions took on the Marras.
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