Great Britain Lions tour of New Zealand & Papua New Guinea live on BBC

The Great Britain Rugby League Lions are back - and the BBC will be following them, every step of the way, on their tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea this autumn.

Four Tests; a first ever meeting with Tonga, two matches against New Zealand and one against Papua New Guinea, will all be shown live on the BBC in October and November.

There will be an extended highlights programme for each match later the same day.

"We are delighted the Great Britain Rugby League Lions will be back in action and on BBC Sport this autumn," said BBC director of sport Barbara Slater.

"They have certainly provided some iconic moments over the years and with the Rugby League World Cup in the UK just two years away, this series will showcase some of the best talent and offer a taster of what's to come."

'One of the strongest brands in rugby league'

The famous white jersey with the red and blue chevron, first worn in 1924, has not been in action since 2007.

It was retired when England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales all competed separately in the 2008 World Cup.

But, throughout history, the Great Britain Rugby League Lions have helped provide some of the most iconic memories of international rugby league.

In 1914, inspired by the great Harold Wagstaff, Britain won a decider against Australia in Sydney, despite finishing the game with only 10 men because of injury. It became known as the "Rorke's Drift Test".

More recent highlights include Jonathan Davies' solo effort that helped a 12-man Great Britain produce a win against the odds over Australia at Wembley in 1994.

Wayne Bennett
England coach Wayne Bennett will lead Great Britain on their autumn tour

The last GB victory on tour was a Sean Long-inspired defeat of the Aussies in Sydney in November 2006.

The return of the famous jersey has also been welcomed by some of the most respected players in the game.

Hull FC forward Gareth Ellis played 17 times for Great Britain and a further 16 times for England.

"I love it. We grew up with GB and when you went to watch Test matches, that's what it was. Great Britain v New Zealand or Great Britain v Australia," Ellis told BBC Radio 5 Live's Rugby League podcast.

"When the shirt came out this year, I thought 'I would love to be pulling that on again'. There is just something about that shirt that makes it very special."

Leeds veteran Jamie Jones-Buchanan played in GB's last game against New Zealand in 2007. He told the podcast: "I love Great Britain. It's one of the strongest brands in rugby league."

The tour will be covered across all platforms of the BBC, including the BBC Sport website and app, as well as Radio 5 Live.

Dates and times for TV coverage of GB Tests

26 October: Tonga v GB RL Lions (on air 07:30 on BBC Two, highlights on BBC One 13:15-14:30)

2 November: New Zealand v GB RL Lions (on air 03:30 on BBC One, highlights on BBC One 13:15-14:30)

9 November: New Zealand v GB RL Lions (on air 06:30 on BBC Two, highlights on BBC One 13:15-14:30)

16 November: PNG v GB RL Lions (on air 07:00 on BBC Two, highlights TBC)

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