Mt Smart Stadium officials believe tickets for sport’s latest great rivalry will be in hot demand when they go on sale later this month. The draw for rugby league’s inaugural Oceania Cup was released today and sees New Zealand and Tonga clashing in the opening match at Mt Smart on 22 June 2019. Regional Facilities Auckland CEO Chris Brooks says the Oceania Cup, which also features Australia, Fiji, Samoa and Papua New Guinea, is a major boost for rugby league and the concept couldn’t wish for a more dramatic opener.

“The Kiwi-Tonga rivalry exploded during the 2017 World Cup and we were eager for Mt Smart to host June’s re-match because it’s the contest league fans desperately want to see,” Mr Brooks said. 

“Whether there is a sea of red, a black tide or a mix of both, this Oceania Cup opener will have an atmosphere that’s equal to any sporting event in the world.”

Tickets for the series will go on sale at the end of March, with Brooks urging league fans to be in early. "The world was wowed by the epic crowd scenes at last October’s test between Australia and Tonga at Mt Smart,” he said. “Both sets of fans will consider June’s Kiwi-Mate Ma’a Tonga match to be a home game, so it’s going to make for a truly special occasion.”

The June test will be Mt Smart’s only league international in 2019. After the Vodafone Warriors' season ends the stadium has commitments which will see the focus shift to major events outside of sport.

Fan reaction to Kiwis vs Tonga clash