New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Greg Peters believes a larger-than-expected ‘walk-up’ crowd for this Saturday’s Test match in Auckland between the host country and Tonga will ensure an attendance of more than 20,000, countering slower-than-expected ticket sales so far.

Such a crowd figure for the Oceania Cup game at the 30,000-capacity Mount Smart Stadium would represent a big increase on the disappointing attendance of just under 12,800 for the New Zealand v Australia clash at the venue last October.

Tonga attracted two sell-out crowds at the stadium for its games during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Peters told the Stuff news website: “I’d love a sell-out. We may not quite get there but we’ll see how the weather pans out for the rest of the week.

“We’re expecting a reasonable walk-up crowd as well. This is the match everyone’s been waiting for and they’ve been telling us they want to see it, so get along and buy a ticket.”

Ticket prices for the game start at NZ$13.35 (£6.90/€7.76/$8.71), with the most expensive setting fans back NZ$78.35.

Peters continued: “There’s a lot of competition for the event dollar. We’ve provided a ticketing price that is the same as what the Australians had last year when they played Tonga, so there’s no discrepancy there.

“There are plenty of cheap tickets available, so we need them to rock out the door in the next few days. But I’m confident of a crowd north of 20,000.”

Image: Mike Cable