Piri, the winning coach from the Tupapa Panthers, and Hansen, the Ngatangiia-Matavera Sea Eagles mentor, have agreed to take on the task together, working to prepare a formidable local side for the biennial tournament, which has been played for the past 16 years.
Cook Islands Rugby League competition coordinator Taua Benioni said the coach for the women’s team is yet to be announced, and added that they were seeking qualified coaches to apply for the position.
However, Benioni said their immediate attention was focussed on getting a team ready for the Tri-Series.
“Unfortunately this year, CIRL New Zealand will not be attending due to other arrangements, however the Papua New Guinea Rugby League Association contacted our president Charles Carlson, showing interest for one of their clubs, the Motu Koita Province (PNG) wanting to compete in our Tri-Series,” said Benioni.
“If anything, having any team, especially a side competing in as high-profile a competition as the Queensland (NRL) Cup level, it will bring even more exposure to rugby league here in the Cook Islands.”
In addition to the Tri-Series, Benioni said they were hoping to include a women’s nines side, as the Motu Koita Province from Papua New Guinea were willing to bring their ladies to compete here as well.
“Charlie Hoff and his team from Sydney Australia will be here to defend the trophy, especially after it being their first time winning the 2016 series,” Benioni said.
The Tri-Series will kick off with the first match between the Motu Koita Province and CIRL Australia on October 20.
The Residents will take on CIRL Australia in the second match of the series on October 22.
In the final match, the Residents will play the Motu Koita Province on October 24.
Meanwhile, Benioni confirmed Hansen had also accepted the coaching role for the 2019 Pacific Games.
“The Asia Pacific Rugby League Federation has confirmed that the nines rugby league tournament of six Pacific regions, which includes the Cook Islands men’s and women’s teams, will be held at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa in June,” he said.
“The 2019 CIRLA Club Nines will be a perfect build-up and a good focus point for preparations leading up to competing in the Nines.”
Benioni said the inclusion of a women’s competition in the Pacific Games nines tournament would mean they would have to introduce a women’s competition in the annual CIRLA Club Nines in January.
He said they would also have to ensure they maintain a women’s programme throughout the 2019 CIRLA competition.
“I strongly encourage our rugby league clubs to enter a women’s team in the CIRLA Club Nines in January, 2019,” said Benioni.