Tony Iro will coach Cook Islands at the Rugby League World Cup 2021, confirmed the sport’s national body.
An Australian media reported that former Kangaroos coach Wayne Bennett has been appointed to guide the Kukis to the World Cup which will be held in England.
But Charles Carlson, the chairman of the Cook Islands Rugby League Association, refuted the report.
“Tony Iro is the coach and we are proud to have him on board,” Carlson told Cook Islands News this week.
According to Courier Mail’s Crash Tackle: Robert Craddock’s 2020 NRL predictions column: “Bennett, who has helped New Zealand, England and, of course, Australia, is named Cook Islands rugby league coach …”
The bizarre report has been shared widely by the Kukis fans on social media Facebook.
Tony Iro, who was appointed the Kukis coach in 2017, guided the national team in the World Cup Nines and the World Cup qualifiers last year.
In the qualifiers, the team thrashed South Africa 66-6 followed by 38-16 win against USA which earned them a place in the World Cup 2021.
Cook Islands is placed with giants Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Wales in Group D of the upcoming tournament.
Charles Carlson earlier said coach Tony Iro would be using the Oceania Cup 2020 as a major build-up for the World Cup.
Carlson said the World Cup qualification and the World Cup Nines has been an excellent start to their preparation.
“Now we are part of the Oceania Cup 2020, this will give us another international game building up to the World Cup. It is very important for us to have more games to give players exposure and provide us a bigger pool of players to pick from,” he earlier said.
“Obviously at this level of the game we will be selecting our very best players playing professionally in NRL and Super League in England. However, we also do have a number of players playing in the Queensland and New South Wales Cup level that are pushing themselves to the next level which is exciting for us.”
The World Cup 2021 will be held from October 23 to November 27.