England to face Fiji in World Cup warm-up at Rochdale Hornets' Crown Oil Arena

England's men will play Fiji at Rochdale in a warm-up game just eight days before their World Cup opener against Samoa it was announced today (Tuesday).

Tuesday, 20th April 2021, 12:54 pm
Rochdale staged a World Cup game between Fiji and Ireland in 2013. Picture by Vaughn Ridley/SWpix.com.

The match will be staged at Rochdale Hornets’ Crown Oil Arena, Sportland, as part of the club’s 150th anniversary celebrations.

It will be England’s second and last practice match, following a game against Combined Nations All Stars at Warrington in June.

Leeds Rhinos forward King Vuniyayawa could be in contention to feature for Fiji.

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England coach Shaun Wane with the World Cup trophy. Picture by SWpix.com.

England's World Cup campaign begins at Newcastle's St James's Park on Saturday, October 23 and Fiji face Australia in Hull later the same day.

Hornets were formed on April 20, 1871 and played their first game on October 7 that year.

The club has a long connection with Fiji and Rochdale hosts the largest Fijian population in the UK, outside London.

Rochdale's relationship with the Pacific nation stretches back to the arrival of four Fijian rugby players in the early 1960s.

Spotland last hosted an international fixture at the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, when Fiji defeated Ireland 32-14 in front of a sell-out crowd.

October’s match will be the first time England has featured in a sporting event in the town since 1930.

England coach Shaun Wane said: “This fixture will be a vital part of our preparations for the World Cup and I’d like to thank Rochdale Hornets and the Fiji National Rugby League for making this happen.

“The Bati are a very talented side individually and collectively and I wish them well at RLWC2021.”

Hornets chief executive Steve Kerr added: “We're delighted to announce our flagship event as part of our 150th anniversary celebrations.

“To welcome Fiji back to Rochdale and continue our cultural links with the island nation is an absolute privilege and honour.

“Supporting Shaun Wane and his England team in their preparations ahead of the 2021 World Cup is simply incredible and the icing on the cake.”

An initial allocation of 2,000 tickets will be available, though that could rise as coronavirus restrictions are eased.