The Cook Islands squad called “Moana” - “Warriors of the Ocean,” will take on the Australian Jillaroos on November 16, followed by the Kiwi Ferns on November 19 and finishing off with the England Lioness on November 22 for the pool rounds.
“We had to come up with a name, so with emails flying back and forth among the CIRL International executives, we agreed on Moana,” says Rugby League President Charles Carlson. “Plus, we are more ocean than land.”
“The Cook Islands is a small group of 15 islands spread across two million square kilometres of ocean, with only 240 sq.km of land, and the 15 stars on our national flag represent the 15 islands of the Cook Islands.”
A 2014 quote from artist and writer Michael Tavioni provides a great description of Moana: “While many see the distance between islands as a challenge to modern society, our ‘warriors’ were travelling between island to island for centuries, guided only by the signs of nature. They viewed each island as a suburb linked by the ocean, not an island separated by the ocean.”
The Moana squad is boosted by the inclusion of current Black Fern try-scoring machine, Toka Natua.
Natua was named player of the match in their World Cup final win over England and she will be supported by another Black Fern front rower, Tekura Aerengamate.
After a thrashing by an Australian Affiliated State side during a warm up game, losing 32-4, the squad was expecting a massive wipeout in their first game against the World Cup defending champions, Australian Jillaroos.
“It is good that this has happened now against a second-third tier Australian side (so we) realise we still have a fair way to go to be competitive at this WC level,” says Carlson.
“The inclusion of these top players will make a huge difference.”
There are three sets of sisters in the squad: Tekura and Teamo Aerengamate, Kiritapu and Ruahei Demant and Stephanie and Eliza Wilson.
The Wilson sisters will be facing off against their big sister, Eliana Wilson, who was named in the Jillaroo’s for the first game.
The squad goes into camp on the Saturday November 11.
Toka Natua (NZ), Te Kura Ngata-Aerengamate (NZ), Te Amohaere Ngata-Aerengamate (NZ), Crystal Tamarua (NZ), Danielle Apaiana (NZ), Stephanie Wilson (AUS), Eliza Wilson (NZ), Josina Singapu (AUS), Karol Tanevesi (AUS), Samaria Taia (AUS), Natalee Tagavaitau (NZ), Kaylen Ikitule (NZ), Kiana Takairangi (AUS), Chantelle Inangaro Schofield (CI), Beniamina Koiatu (NZ), Inangaro Maraeara (AUS), Manea Poa-Maoate (NZ), Lydia Turua-Quedley (AUS), Ruahei Demant (NZ), Cecelia Strickland (AUS), Urshla Kere (AUS), Kiritapu Demant (NZ), Katelyn Arona (NZ).