In the triple header on May 6 at Campbelltown Sports Stadium in Sydney, the Kukis will take on Papua New Guinea while Fiji Bati will face Mate Ma’a Tonga in the second match before England clash with Toa Samoa.
The national side has long desired to be part of this regional meet and Iro wants to make the most of the opportunity presented to them this year.
In an interview with Radio New Zealand, the former Kiwi international said he was hopeful that up to a dozen NRL players might make themselves available for the Cook Islands team, dependent on some who could also be selected for New Zealand.
Cook Islands Rugby League Association president Charles Carlson in an earlier interview with this newspaper said only the professional players would be considered for this test match.
Iro said they were still disappointed at missing out on the 2017 World Cup from the knockout match 18 months ago.
He said the Pacific Rugby League test provided the players with something to look forward to.
“It’s become a real integral part of the NRL calendar, the Pacific Test weekend, and I know a lot of our boys are really looking forward to taking part,” Iro said.
“All of the island sides need as much exposure to the international game as possible.
“I think that’s where the growth area is in rugby league, especially in this part of the world, and I know for England to come down - which is a big commitment from them - it’s great to see them supporting the international game.”
Meanwhile Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, PNG and England will use the Pacific Rugby League Test to prepare for the 2017 World Cup to be held in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea between October 26 and December 2.
“We’re under no illusions that this will be a tough test for us with the majority of the playing group coming from abroad, but we’ll prepare the best we can,” England coach Wayne Bennett earlier said.
“The Samoans are always a tough outfit, but we’ve got a solid group of players to choose from and I’m looking forward to getting everyone together for the match ahead of the World Cup later this year.”
- Rashneel Kumar/RNZ