However, there was a glimmer of that perhaps we might be able to raise the necessary funds to get us to the tournament.
I wanted to make sure that we would have the best players available for the campaign.
I had a meeting with CIRNZ, which was awesome, and got in touch with a good number of players who were involved in the 2016 20s campaign who were absolutely excited to be involved.
I travelled around the North Island checking out Cook Islands players in action with their various provinces, and it was very pleasing to see the talent that we have on offer.
I was also in regular contact with players in the South Island and in Australia.
We have started a 20s database and will collate these with CIRU, CIRNZ and ACIRU.
I had scheduled three trial games to be held in Auckland with Australian and South Island players that we being considered, because of their experience and level of play.
I was also looking at including up to four local Rarotonga based players in the squad.
All of the training was to be held in Auckland, and it would have been gruelling and tough.
It was disappointing to have to announce the cancellation of the campaign, and my prayer is that the players continue to have that fire burning in their hearts to represent the Cook Islands at international level.
The future of Cook Islands rugby is bright.
We have 12 months to get the next campaign on the road and I’m pumped to see it happen.
The 20s campaign is crucial to the future of Cook Islands Rugby.
One, we identify and develop young talent.
Two, expose them to international rugby and three, create depth.
I would like to thank CIRU for their support and look forward to an ongoing relationship.
Thank you also to the players and their families for their commitment and support during this campaign.
Love you and God Bless.
- Pops Arona