And local rugby league acting competition coordinator Tai Nelio said the onus was on the teams to build on to their Nines performance for the weekly domestic competition, which is expected to start in the opening week of February.
Defending champions Tupapa Panthers made their intentions for the 2019 season clear after claiming their first ever Nines title on Saturday. The side bashed Queensland Kukis 41-15 in the final at the BCI Stadium.
Apart from the Panthers, the Arorangi Bears also fared well in the tournament. The side finished on top after the preliminary rounds but lost two consecutive matches to finish on third spot.
“The Nines tournament was ideal for the clubs to start their 13s competition preparations. The tournament should provide clubs with an opportunity to work on their weak areas before the season proper starts next month,” Nelio said.
“The tournament was also a good opportunity for the national coaches to start selecting players for the Pacific Games in Samoa this year.”
Eight teams, including two overseas clubs, took part in the two-day Nines tournament.
Nelio said the Kukis from Australia have confirmed their participation next year.
He said Aitutaki Sharks who made their debut in the Nines over the weekend, have also confirmed their participation.
“It was a successful tournament. In the previous years since the tournament started in 2016, we have had six teams but this year we had eight. We are hoping to maintain the numbers next year.”
Nelio thanked their sponsors Arama Wichman of Cook Islands Building Supplies, Infrastructure minister Robert Tapaitau, Teina Bishop of Bishop Cruise/Aitutaki Village, Clive Arona of Multi-Crete Australia, Jeanne Matenga of CITV and Cook Islands Radio and Tokoruru Tangua of the Convenience Store, for making the event a success.
1. Winner and CIRL 9s Champion - Tupapa Panthers, 2nd placing & Runner up - Queensland Kukis, 3rd placing - Arorangi Bears, 4th placing - Avatiu Eels, 5th placing - Titikaveka Bulldogs, 6th placing - Aitutaki Sharks, 7th placing - Ngatangiia/ Matavera Sea Eagles 1, 8th placing - Miyaki Allstars