There have been some astonishing achievements over the years, from 2005 where the Kiwis bullied Australia off rugby league’s pedestal, through to 2008 when New Zealand became RLWC champions for the first time, but few remember that the team were ‘the Professional All Blacks’ over a hundred years ago.

The Kiwis as they are known now, were professional in 1907 because they were paid (rugby union at the time was strictly amateur) and for nearly two decades they were referred to as the All Blacks at times despite furious opposition from the pro-NZRU New Zealand media. It is a historical fact that has been lost over the years that there were effectively two All Blacks teams in the early 1900s playing league and union.

The following year in 1908 was the first time a season of Rugby League had been played in New Zealand, thanks to the popularity of the ‘All Golds’ tour the season before (the eventual name the 1907/08 tourists have been given by the history books).

In 1938 the Kiwis name was unofficially sanctioned by the NZRL, using the title for the team for the first time while adopting the now famous white V onto their jerseys.

By 1954, six years after the Rugby League International Federation had been formed, the side had established a formidable reputation as a touring outfit but were unable to win a single match at the ‘Rugby World Cup’ (it was later recognised as the Rugby League World Cup) in France – Great Britain would be crowned inaugural champions.

It was this year that Australia began to streak ahead in rivalry - in 1954 the ledger was 13-12 (to the Kangaroos). When New Zealand defeated their trans-Tasman rivals 19-12 in Brisbane in 1983, the head-to-head record had become an uneven 44-19.

By 2005 it had become a lopsided 72-25 to Australia, but the Kiwis famous 24-0 shut out of the Kangaroos in the 2005 Tri-Nations Final was arguably New Zealand’s finest hour and was backed up with their 34-20 victory over Australia during the 2008 Rugby League World Cup decider.

Australia’s recent 16-0 win over the Kiwis, the nations 131st match, was the first time in four games the Kangaroos had beaten New Zealand.

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