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All Blacks in talks over hybrid series with Australia’s rugby league team

TJ Perenara of the All Blacks leads the Haka at Eden Park on August 17, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

New Zealand Rugby has said it is considering a cross-code match against the Australian rugby league national team.

The governing body’s chief executive Mark Robinson confirmed discussions had taken place as NZR looks for innovative revenue-generating ideas to counter the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.

It has been reported that a 14-a-side match has been mooted for early December and Robinson says it one of a number of ideas they are considering to bolster their revenue.

He said: “Our priority is that we want the All Blacks to play international rugby, but with the uncertainty around that we have had the option put to us of this hybrid game with the Kangaroos and it’s one of many different scenarios, in a unique year like this, that we are considering.”

Propositions for cross-code games are not new but have struggled to find a balance between the rules of the 13 and 15-man codes.

According to Australian rugby league coach Mal Meninga the two parties “are in serious negotiations” and have a pencilled in a date of December 5 at a yet-to-be-determined venue, the The Courier-Mail reports.

However, the Sydney Morning Herald reports the cross-code hybrid concept could already be a non-starter.

Sources told the publication that the public airing of the proposal before both parties had got anywhere close to signing a deal means the match is unlikely to go ahead. NZR may also be wary of damaging the highly valued All Blacks brand.