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NFL will announce exhibition games in New Zealand this week, says report

According to one news source, the league is looking to grow the game in the Southern hemisphere as well as across the Atlantic.

Martin Hunter/Getty Images

The National Football League has made a concerted effort over the last several years to grow interest in its product in the United Kingdom. Hosting several games each year at Wembley Stadium, including one home game each year for the Jacksonville Jaguars has been the tactic recently, and several years ago commissioner Roger Goodell discussed the league's hopes to host a Super Bowl across the pond.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the league is looking to other international avenues to grow the game, and the latest appears to be in the opposite direction. New Zealand is apparently slated to host a pair of American Football games "early next year", according to the Sunday Star Times newspaper.

New Zealand has likely been chosen as a target market for its rich rugby heritage, and the island nation has a handful of its citizens currently fighting for NFL jobs.

Three NFL franchises have been connected to these games: the 49ers, Cardinals, and Cowboys. However, the report indicates that the individual players participating will be chosen from players cut during or at the end of training camp in August - in other words, players from the teams' 53-man rosters (and presumably their practice squads as well) will not be involved, and as such these games will be purely exhibitions.

Further information is expected to come in a formal announcement on Wednesday, according to the Star Times.