The two-day tournament which will feature nine teams in the main competition, is likely to be played under soggy conditions.
The forecast for Rarotonga this weekend is rain due to a trough line located close to the southern Cook Islands. However, the organisers of the annual tournament said they would continue with the event regardless of the weather conditions.
“The stage is set, we are monitoring the weather conditions and we will continue with the tournament regardless of the rain,” said Tai Nelio, Cook Islands Rugby League’s acting competition coordinator.
“We are hoping the weather eases so we can have perfect conditions to play the matches.”
The fourth edition of the tournament will feature defending champions Queensland Kukis alongside former champion Avatiu Eels, Titikaveka Bulldogs, Tupapa Panthers, Miyaki All Stars (New Zealand-based family team), Arorangi Bears, Ngatangiia Sea Eagles I, Ngatangiia Sea Eagles II and Aitutaki Sharks.
“The teams are ready to compete and they can’t wait to enter the field. It will be an exciting tournament,” Nelio said.
“There is a lot of curiosity among the fans on who will feature for which local club this season and I guess they will be able to find that out at this tournament.
“Players are expected to be scattered across the clubs and this should make the competition tough and interesting.”
All club players are free agents in this Nines competition unless they are contracted to another club.
Nelio said participating teams had prepared well and they were all eager to fight tooth and nail for the main title.
“Locally, I think the Aitutaki Sharks are one of the best-prepared teams coming into this tournament. They have been preparing for the past seven weeks and if we go by their preparation, they should be one of the top teams in this tournament.”
The Sharks, who will make their debut in the Nines, will be a surprise package alongside the Miyaki All Stars team, made up of family members from New Zealand.
“The presence of overseas teams will surely boost the morale of the local clubs and this should make the tournament tougher and more competitive,” Nelio said.
The Cook Islands Nines was established in January, 2016 with the aim of assisting the clubs in their pre-season preparation before the season proper starts in February.
The tournament was also set up to help with the development of the Nines game in the Cook Islands as part of on-going preparation for future events such as the Pacific Games and Nines competition both in the region and internationally.
Entry to the tournament is $5 for adults and a gold coin donation for children under 12.
He gates open at 10am today.
Today – 10am Gates Open, 11am Assemble of Teams, 11.15am Prayer, National Anthem, Welcome Speech by DP Minister, 11.40am Queensland Kukis-Ngatangiia Sea Eagles 1, 12.05pm Arorangi Bears-Avatiu Eels, 12.30pm Tupapa Panthers-Ngatangiia Sea Eagles 2, 12.55pm
Women’s Rugby League, 1.20pm Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 1-Aitutaki Sharks, 1.45pm Avatiu Eels-Miyaki All Stars, 2.10pm Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 2-Titikaveka Bulldogs, 2.35pm Women’s Rugby League, 3pm Aitutaki Sharks-Queensland Kukis, 3.25pm Miyaki All Stars-Arorangi Bears, 3.50pm Titikaveka Bulldogs-Tupapa Panthers, 4.15pm Queensland Kukis-Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 2, 4.40pm Arorangi Bears-Nga/Mat Sea Eagles 1, 5.05pm Panthers-Sharks