New Zealand has announced interest in hosting the Rugby League World Cup in 2025 ©Getty Images

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) has announced that it wants to be the replacement host for the 2025 World Cup in a joint bid with Australia.

A statement said talks between the trans-Tasman rivals had begun after France dramatically withdrew as the host nation yesterday.

French organisers said they could not guarantee the economic viability of the tournament after the Government asked for a guarantee for the risk of loss for the event in order to support it.

They said a "difficult" decision was taken to avoid threatening the "robustness" of the "major international sporting event models that France now wishes to promote".

The men's, women's and wheelchair World Cups are due to be held simultaneously in 2025.

"We are exploring the possibility of a southern hemisphere Rugby League World Cup as an alternative to France 2025," NZRL said.

"We're keen to work with the Australian Rugby League Commission to host the tournament in NZ and Australia and have started the conversations.

"Bringing the international tournament down under is an exciting proposition not only for the fans but our indigenous and Pasifika communities." 

Greg Peters, the chief executive of NZRL, added to New Zealand media: "It's early days, but prior to this announcement we had already started thinking about what that might look like at a high level, and we have some recent experience from 2017, when Australia and New Zealand hosted it.

New Zealand and Australia co-hosted the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 ©Getty Images
New Zealand and Australia co-hosted the Rugby League World Cup in 2017 ©Getty Images

"But we believe that with help from Pasifika countries and Pasifika elements, we can create something pretty special down here."

Peters added that he would like the tournament to remain in 2025, with the tight turnaround for the new host sparking fears that the World Cup could be pushed into 2026.

The 2021 tournament in England eventually had to be played last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is possible [for 2025] and definitely that would be the initial goal, to keep it in the cycle," Peters said.

"Particularly after we missed the cycle with the postponement of the 2021 World Cup, it would be good to get it back into the cycle and avoid other major events around the world."

Andrew Abdo, the chief executive of Australia's National Rugby League, said the situation was still at an early stage.

"In terms of World Cups, it's a bit premature to talk about that, but needless to say we'll be ready for any situation that unfolds over the next couple of years," he said.

"I've been across the issues for a while now. 

"France 2025 was always going to be a great opportunity for us to grow the game in Europe and particularly in France, but it wasn't without challenge or risk.

"It's too premature to comment on just exactly what we do next. 

France withdrew as World Cup hosts over financial issues yesterday ©Getty Images
France withdrew as World Cup hosts over financial issues yesterday ©Getty Images

"But having said that we have been anticipating some of the challenges and we are working on mitigation plans to make sure international content is played over the next five years."

The 2025 World Cup has now lost its host twice as a combined North American effort was axed due to financial concerns in 2018.

International Rugby League (IRL) chairman Troy Grant said it was "difficult to express" how disappointed he was with France's withdrawal and that he had conveyed his feelings directly to the French Government.

The Government gave organisers three months of extra time but they ultimately could not fully secure the risk of a deficit. 

An IRL Board meeting is due to discuss the issue tomorrow.