Keira Rangi from Rarotonga is the first girl ever to make it into the team.
Keira’s mum, Chloe Tairua said her daughter has been playing club league for two years and has excelled in the sport coming from an Olympic weightlifting and CrossFit background.
“She was 11 at the time of selection and has just turned 12. And as her parents we are very proud. it’s a massive achievement for women in league which was her goal in the first place.”
She said Keira wanted to show and encourage other girls that they too can play contact sport at a high skill level and bring more light to girls in rugby league
Keira is joined by Dallas Ingram (Mauke, Aitutaki and Rarotonga) and Taakoi Benioni (Aitutaki/Penrhyn).
Speaking to Cook Islands News, Ingram’s mother Mary Ngaoire says this is Queensland’s first win in the school competition.
The participants were trialled for their respective regional teams – South coast, Met North, Met West, Met East, Capricornia, Sunshine Coast, Darling Downs, Northern, North West, South West, Wide Bay, Peninsula – and these regions then had a five-day tournament out of which 17 kids were selected to represent Queensland White.
“This is a massive achievement especially for all three Cook Island kids. An inspiration to the younger generation of kids wanting to make it big in Rugby League,” said Ngaoire
She said Queensland U12 was a pathway has seen many greats come through like Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith, Jonathan Thurston, Gordon Tallis, to name a few.
Ngaoire said they were proud of the three players who had done their best to journey and experience being in the Queensland side.
The three youngsters joined the rest of the team on a seven-day training camp, jersey presentation and Captains Run at the Broncos before beginning the six-day tournament.
They came first in their pool game, being undefeated and winning the National Championship.
“That in itself created Queensland history, a memory that will last a lifetime.”
Ngaoire said Dallas’ next shot would be for the Queensland U15 side in 2022 and the Australian Schoolboys Merit Team.
Anything could happen in two years, but the aim would be to have all three of the Kukis trained in preparation for 2022.
“Statistics and history have shown that only one or three kids from Queensland U12 have made Queensland U15, with many reasonings behind this – loss of interest, more competition from players who want to make it.
“Only one in 100 kids make it to the National Rugby League (NRL) and only 20 per cent of kids who play elite rugby league at Australian School Boys Level make NRL.”