World Cup dreams on the card

Thursday July 27, 2017 Written by Published in Rugby Union
From left, New Zealand-based players Greg Mullany, Tiano Arona, Te-Ara Henderson and Mat Mullany with technical advisor Pops Arona. 17072607 From left, New Zealand-based players Greg Mullany, Tiano Arona, Te-Ara Henderson and Mat Mullany with technical advisor Pops Arona. 17072607

Twin brothers Greg and Mat Mullany are hoping to help Cook Islands rugby achieve its dream of playing against the elites in the game at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

 

The Mullanys will be part of the Cook Islands team that will take on Tahiti in the Oceania Cup clash on Friday next week.

The winner of the match, which will kick off at 3pm at the BCI Stadium, will qualify to the next stage of the 2019 RWC playoff against the winner of the Asian qualifiers.

“As people, Cook Islanders are very talented and we deserve some representation on the world stage,” said Greg, who plays in the Wellington premiership.

The brothers played for the Cook Islands in the Oceania Cup in Papua New Guinea in 2014. The national team won that tournament but lost out badly to Fiji in their final playoff match for the 2015 RWC.

With PNG out of the equation, the path to the 2019 RWC has become much easier with only Tahiti standing in the Cook Islands’ way ahead of the second stage of the qualifiers.

“We are really excited and proud to be given the opportunity to represent our country, our families and our islands we come from,” said Grey, who has maternal links to Mitiaro.

“The dynamic within the group is there are players from outer islands as well, and not only Rarotonga.”

Greg said having a twin brother training and playing alongside was a massive morale boost for him.

The Mullanys are one of the four sets of brothers in the 26-member national squad which was announced by coach Walter Tangata last week.

“In training, we are always pushing each other and off the field, we are talking tactics and strategies. So we are getting that side together as well,” Greg said.

“I guess we are always looking for solutions and how we can help the team. It’s great to have him alongside me.”

Greg and the rest of the New Zealand-based players had their first session with the local-based players on Monday.

Coach Tangata earlier said his focus in the remaining days will be fine-tuning the combinations ahead of the do-or-die Test match against the Tahitians.

“I think there is a wee bit of adjustment with the guys coming from New Zealand and the local guys in terms of the different styles of rugby they play here in Rarotonga and the way we play in New Zealand,” Greg said.

“I think we have done really well to sort of mould it and gel it together and it’s been good the way it has come about so far.”

The New Zealand-based players were yesterday selling tickets and promoting the match at the BSP Bank.

Greg is encouraging Cook Islanders to come out in numbers and support them achieve their dream of playing in the World Cup.

Tickets are selling at $5 for adults and $2 for children under-16.

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