The Kukis, minus their star players, went down to minnows Niue 22-44 in the build-up clash on Saturday night in Sydney.
The national side used the match to test out some of the newcomers for the winner-take-all clash against the Tongans on October 17 in Sydney.
Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said they were disappointed by the unexpected loss.
Cook Islands, ranked 15 places higher than Niue, were the favourites to win the one-off match but were shocked by the minnows rattling performance.
“A very disappointing result, but it provided the opportunity for new players to have a shot at the squad to be named to play Tonga,” Carlson said.
“The team was coached by Ezra Howe and failed to spark against a very hungry Niue side wanting to make a mark at the international level.
“None of the World Cup players played in the team and this was a very young side and a bit inexperienced at this level. Niue definitely fielded their top side full of experienced players, and the result speaks for itself.”
Carlson said while they were pleased with some of the players’ performance, others that they expected to do well failed to impress.
He said the onus was now on the senior coaches Alex Chan and Tony Iro to sort out these fringe players before confirming the squad.
Carlson said the BCI-sponsored Cook Islands squad will assemble on Tuesday next week.
Meanwhile, Niue coach Brendan Perenara is lobbying the Rugby League International Federation for more matches.
He hopes Niue versus Cook Islands become a regular fixture in the near future.
“It’s (the win) a stepping stone to where we want to achieve to get to and hopefully we are opening doors for the future for Niue Rugby League to get there in the rankings,” Perenara told Radio New Zealand.
“I asked them to put our card on the table to try and put us on a roster in the Pacific Nation round: There’s Papua New Guinea vs Fiji and Tonga vs Samoa, so why not chuck in Niue vs Cook Islands?”
Valentine Holmes (Cronulla Sharks), Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders), Anthony Gelling (Wigan), Marata Niukora (Warriors), Joseph Manu (Sydney Roosters), Wallace Tangiti (Rabbitohs), Johnathon Ford (Wyong), Tinirau Arona (Cronulla Sharks), Sione Katoa (Penrith Panthers), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters), Tepai Moeroa (Parramatta Eels), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Tupou Sopoaga (Penrith Panthers), Sam Mataora (Newcastle Knights), Adam Tangata (Halifax/UK), Makahesi Makatoa (Bulldogs), Eric Newbigging (Parramatta Eels), Chance Peni (West Tigers), Aron Teroi (Storm), Drury Low (CRL/Narellan), Rueben Porter (Sydney Roosters), John Papalii (West Belconnen), Esan Marsters (Wests Tigers), Moses Noovao-McGreal (Manly Sea Eagles), Francis Molo (Broncos), Fred Pakutoa (Wente-Magpies), Paul Ulberg (NZ Warriors), Charnze Nicoll Klokstad (Storm), Ezra Howe Jnr (Canberra Raiders), Carne Doyle-Manga (Wyong).
Coach: Alex Chan, Assistant: Ezra Howie, Technical Coach: Tony Iro, Managers: Charlie Hoff, Tere Glassie