Test match status

THE Big Week of League at the end of the month just keeps on getting bigger.

Not only have Orara Valley Axemen allowed more teams into this year's seven's tournament to make it larger but for the first time in Coffs Harbour's history, a sanctioned test match will be played in our fair city.

The match on Australia Day between Fiji Bati and New Zealand Maori at the International Stadium is set to top off a huge day.

Another international between Japan and USA precedes the highly anticipated local Coast and Valley All-Stars clash with the Cook Islands.

As if these three matches weren't good enough, there will also be seven's exhibition matches between the Barbarians and St George Dragons Old Boys as well as North Sydney Old Boys and Coast and Valley Old Boys.

Both of the exhibition matches promise to have a smattering of past superstars of the game on show.

Many still recall the intensity of last year's Fiji versus Cook Islands meeting on the corresponding weekend and the raise in stakes for the upcoming test match should ensure an even more torrid affair.

As chairman of Council's Business Units Committee, Councillor Ian Ovens can't wait for the test match to begin.

"This raises the stakes of the match significantly," he said.

"Rather than a friendly match between two brilliant international teams, the public will now be treated to an official international test match that is sure to be hard fought by both sides."

"This is the first time an officially sanctioned rugby league match between two international teams will be held in Coffs Harbour," said Sports Unit manager Ben Payne.

"The raised stakes are likely to bring even more rugby league fans to the Coffs Coast International Stadium on Australia Day to cheer on their favourite team."

The International Challenge on January 26 forms part of the official opening day of the Orara Valley Axemen Big Week of League which runs for four days starting with the Australia Day extrvaganza.

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