England and Fiji Bati will finalise their preparations for the IRL World Cup with a warm-up match at Salford on October 7.
Both nations face tough opponents first up on October 15, with England hosting the World Cup opener against a star-studded Toa Samoa outfit at Newcastle’s St James Park and the Bati meeting defending champions Australia at Headingley.
Samoa will be bolstered by Penrith Panthers and NSW Origin stars Jarome Luai and Brian To’o, while Queensland and Canberra prop Josh Papali’i is also expected to pledge his allegiance to the Pacific nation.
The winner of the England-Samoa match will be on track for a semi-final berth at Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium on November 12, possibly against Tonga if the 2017 semi-finalists top their pool, which comprises Cook Islands, Papua New Guinea and Wales.
The Kangaroos and Kiwis are on a collision course to meet in the other semi-final at Elland Road.
Fiji upset New Zealand at the quarter-final stage of the 2017 World Cup and have been semi-finalists in each of the last three World Cups – 2008, 2013 and 2017.
With the likes of Maika Sivo, Viliame Kikau and Kevin Naiqama in the Bati squad, Fiji are expected to again challenge strongly and England coach Shaun Wane said the clash at AJ Bell Stadium would help ensure both sides were ready for the World Cup.