Logan Perenise is back with the blue and gold brigade after spending a season with rival Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles last year.
Making his way back into the Eels outfit is fellow Samoan Feleti Iona who returned back to Rarotonga late last year.
The two are expected to play a key role in Eels campaign in the two-day tournament which starts today at the BCI Stadium in Nikao.
Eels skipper and coach Clive Nicholas said the return of the two was an added boost to the team ahead of the crucial test this weekend.
“The return of our Samoan brothers will definitely boost our morale as we now have a large number of players fighting for a spot in the starting lineup,” Nicholas said.
“We also have Tevita (Niusama) joining us this year. We planned to save money and not bring our Avatiu players from overseas for this tournament but to use the locally-based players available.
“We will miss the services of Lai (Rororogoivalu) who is injured and has some personal issues and Sirla (Pera) who is out for concussion.
“Otherwise we still have our powerhouse players in Tua (Ravula), Mr Bean (Samu Alafua) and Leki (Vahefoou) for this tournament, alongside other regular starters.”
The Eels, who have won the tournament twice since its inception in 2016, are expecting a tough tussle from the local teams as well as the overseas Queensland Kukis.
They take on the Brisbane-based club in their opening match at 12.30pm, followed by the battle against Titikaveka Bulldogs at 2.10pm and Sea Eagles at 3.50pm today.
In their final two matches, the Eels will play Tupapa Panthers and Arorangi Bears tomorrow.
“It’s a good thing that all clubs are gearing seriously for this tournament and aiming to take us down. We have been sitting on top in the past two years and we are on our toes, raring to retain our standings this year,” Nicholas said.
“We have been training throughout the festive season, stalling our festive celebrations until next week.
“We are not planning on coming in second place; we want to retain the title. We wish all teams the very best in this tournament.”
The Eels, under the guidance of former mentor Albert Nicholas, have been a force to reckon with in the 2016 and 2017 CIRLA Nines tournaments.