Smith makes Wright choice

Monday April 23, 2018 Written by Published in Sports

The Cook Islands Rugby Union has announced that Stan Wright will once again serve as head coach of our Cook Islands national rugby team.

CIRU president Sean Smith was very happy when he approached Stan and offered him the role.

“We had to wait a few days before Stan got back to us to take up the offer, and we were very happy with Stan and the management team he has assembled,” Smith said.

“The player base that Stan can deliver will be vital to us in reaching our goals.”

The 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan awaits and a spot in Pool B, but before that the ‘Asia 1’ match sits in our way, with a home test in Rarotonga on June 30 and the return leg in July.

The opponent is yet to be confirmed, as it will be between Hong Kong, Malaysia and South Korea, who are all competing in the 2018 Asia Championship that begins this weekend.

Meanwhile, Wright and his team have been busy putting together a professional and semi-professional playing squad.

Former Australian halfback Chris Whitaker has been appointed as assistant coach and Nathan Mauger as technical assistant for the squad.

Kevin Iro will form part of the coaching team to implement the coaching objectives for our locally based squad members, and one more locally based assistant coach and a strength and conditioning coach are to be appointed.

The response from players based here in the Cook Islands and abroad has been hugely positive and already big names are coming onboard to help form the national team.

“To support the players and short turnaround of the tests, we needed a strong medical team around recovery and support,” Smith said.

“We have appointed Gareth O’Loughlin (current Cook Islands U18 sevens physio) and Victor Malbon from the Bay of Plenty (born in Aitutaki), and are awaiting confirmation from a locally based physio/medic – together they will form the physio/medic team for the national side moving forward.”

Cam Kilgour completes the team management and has already provided strong support to the team and campaign organisation, having been involved in Cook Islands Rugby since 2013.

The squad head into camp in Rarotonga on June 17, with a warm-up game to be held on June 23.

“It will be a good showcase of our talent here in the Cook Islands, and the anticipated level of rugby to be played will be a great example of the opportunities and avenues available for young aspiring rugby players here,” Smith explained.

“Most of all, it will be a great chance for us all to get behind our team and display to the world what makes us the Cook Islands.”

Further details will be released upon confirmation.

            - CL/CIRU

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