Brad Takairangi, of the Parramatta Eels club, made his long-awaited debut last week for the Kiwi’s in their first match win against Samoa.
His sister however, took a far more unconventional route to rugby league’s biggest stage.
Kiana Takairangi was a featured player in the United States Lingerie Football League, a tight end for the Los Angeles Temptations, and it wasn’t until last year that she even played in her first rugby league match.
She saw that friend and Australian Jillaroo Elianna Watson was going to represent the Cook Islands in a World Cup qualifier against Fiji, and took a chance at a sport she had never played.
Following the game, she set herself the personal goal of playing the 2017 World Cup, despite the fact that she had already made plans to travel back to LA.
“Elianna posted on Facebook that they had a game and I just asked if they needed any more players,” she told the Courier Mail.
“It was so exciting, I had so much fun and I really enjoyed it, and to find out that we could be in a World Cup, it was massive.
“It was something I had to be a part of.”
Takairangi had been living in the US since 2015, when she moved to Florida to work as a stewardess on luxury yachts, but quit after a year to move to LA and pursue her LFL goals.
Her goal was motivated by her previous experience playing the American sport in New South Wales in 2011.
However, her success in rugby league so far has made her doubt whether she will travel back to LA and continue with the Temptations.
Takairangi has said she has a desire to continue playing the sport, and possibly one day even represent the Jillaroos.
“The Cook Islands have taken quite a big risk by putting me in their team, and I hope to do them proud.
“I would like to keep involved in rugby league as it continues to grow.”
The Cook Islands will begin their campaign this November against the Jillaroos, and will also go on to play New Zealand and England in the pool rounds.
All games will be played at the Southern Cross Group Stadium in Sydney, before the final at Suncorp Stadium in early December.