The Tongan national women's rugby league team have been cleared by immigration to arrive in New Zealand for the Women's Rugby League World Cup, to be played at North Harbour Stadium from September 28 until October 12.
The Tongan team has had to reduce their numbers due to recent immigration changes, which saw their arrival delayed into New Zealand until late Wednesday.
The Russians were meant to be coming too but, in an ironic case of history not repeating itself, they have sent their apologies.
The competition draw was revised last week based on an exciting demand by all teams for more game time.
A New Zealand Maori side will also compete in the World Cup along with sides from Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau Islands and 2000 grand-finalist, Great Britain & Ireland.
The North Harbour Stadium and surrounding North Shore Domain in Albany provide the venue for the, nine-team 2003 tournament, sponsored by the Lion Foundation and organised by the New Zealand Women's Rugby League with support from North Harbour Stadium, North Shore City Council, MaiFM and the New Zealand Rugby League.
The nine teams will parade up Hurstmere Rd and into The Strand, Takapuna, this Saturday morning, September 27 where they will be honoured with an official reception in the civic forecourt outside North Shore City Council's head office.
New Zealand Rugby League patron and Prime Minister, Helen Clark, will fly up from Stewart Island this Sunday to attend the official opening. It is hoped the PM will also attend the final on Sunday, October 12 and present the World Cup. A formal farewell dinner will be held at the stadium's ASB Bank Lounge that evening.
There are gates sales only for opening and closing days with ticket prices confirmed at $5 adults, $2 children and $12 family (two adults and four children).