Iro content with performance despite loss

Tuesday May 09, 2017 Written by Published in League
Cook Islands’ Geoff Daniela scored two tries in the Pacifi c Test against PNG Kumuls on Friday. 17050801/NRL Cook Islands’ Geoff Daniela scored two tries in the Pacifi c Test against PNG Kumuls on Friday. 17050801/NRL

Cook Islands rugby league coach Tony Iro is content with the performance of the national side despite the 22-32 loss to Papua New Guinea Kumuls in the Pacific Rugby League Test on Friday in Sydney.


The national side came back from behind to level the sore 12-all at the break, but was unable to maintain the momentum in the latter stage of the match.

The Kumuls ran away with the 10-point win following a powerful performance in the remaining half of the second spell.

Despite the loss, the national team believe they have a platform to build on for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.

The Kukis failed to qualify to this year’s World Cup after losing to Tonga in the qualifiers last year.

“We’ve got a lot of guys who are just out of Under-20s footy – a few guys who I know will make their mark in the NRL over the next 12-24 months – who are here currently training at NRL clubs and just waiting for an opportunity,” coach Iro told Radio New Zealand.

“So I’m confident they enjoyed the experience, - obviously they will be better for it.

“The big thing about Cook Islands footy is just getting them in and around the culture and experience a different feel to what they normally do week in week out.”

In the match against the Kumuls, Iro said he was proud of the effort put in by his team which had a number of debutants.

“I thought the boys did pretty good to drag ourselves back into the game by half-time,” he said.

“We did have two tries disallowed previously so we created enough opportunities and at 12-all I was reasonably confident.

“We generally dominated possession in the first half and I thought they were wavering a little bit - they scored two good tries but I thought our boys were on top.

“Then basically in the second half we made a few errors, lost our fullback and our halfback after 20 minutes of the second half and then I was really proud of the way the boys hung in actually ... and I thought the Kumuls played pretty good footy as well.”

Iro said the team enjoyed being a part of the Pacific Test for the first time would love to remain involved.

“The game has given our team a bit of profile and we’ve got to build our national side and find some more fixtures,” the former Kiwi player said.

“At this stage I think the next world cup qualifying will be in 2019, which isn’t that far away, so we’ve got a two year period in which we can start to build some depth in numbers and quality in player.”   - RK/ RNZ

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