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Kukis ready for Welsh challenge

Tuesday 18 October 2022 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in League, Sports

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Kukis ready for Welsh challenge
Dom Peyroux, right, and Makahesi Makatoa during training this week. CIRL/22101215

Cook Islands rugby league side is excited and brimming with confidence ahead of their opening Rugby League World Cup match against Wales tomorrow at 8.30am (Cook Islands time).

The Kukis are heavy favourites in the Group D fixture to be played at the Leigh Sports Village Stadium in Leigh.

Coach Tony Iro has named a strong starting line-up including players with NRL and Super League experience.

Experienced players Anthony Gelling, Esan Marsters, Brad Takairangi, Johnathon Ford, Zane Tetevano, Tepai Moeroa, Dom Peyroux and Makahesi Makatoa have made the starting 13 as well as young guns Kayal Iro and Brendon Piakura.

Cook Islands will miss the services of Dylan Napa who is suspended for two games and will not be available until the match against Tonga.

Coach Iro told Cook Islands News: “Preparation has been good. It has been an extended build up because we are the last pool game of the first round, but because we did not have a warm up game it has proved beneficial.”

“There are plenty of senior players here who have helped drive the standards and intensity at trainings and the boys seem ready to go.

“It was a difficult team to pick as everyone has trained well but we feel this is the best combination of players for the start of the tournament.”

Cook Islands and Wales last met in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup where the national side won 28-24.

Iro said the Welsh will be tough opposition.

“They have an experienced coach who will have them primed, and like us, they are a proud nation who will give everything for their jersey. It will be a great test,” he said.

“We have had plenty of social media support but certainly the people of Middlesbrough have been generous hosts and have enjoyed the Cook Islands being in town.”

Wales coach John Kear told Love Rugby League: “An incremental goal for us would be to win a game. We didn’t get out the group stages in 2013 and 2017, we didn’t even qualify in 2008, so if we pick up a win, then you never know what happens to a player’s confidence and belief.”

Teams

Cook Islands 19-man squad:

1 Kayal Iro, 2 Paul Ulberg, 3 Anthony Gelling, 4 Esan Marsters, 5 Steven Marsters, 6 Brad Takairangi, 7 Johnathon Ford, 8 Makahesi Makatoa, 9 Aaron Teroi, 10 Tepai Moeroa, 11 Dom Peyroux, 12 Brendan Piakura, 13 Zane Tetevano, 14 Tevin Arona, 16 Reubenn Rennie, 17 Pride Petterson-Robati, 20 Davvy Moale, 23 Reuben Porter.

Wales 19-man squad:

1 Caleb Aekins, 2 Rhys Williams, 4 Will Evans, 5 Dalton Grant, 6 Elliot Kear, 7 Josh Ralph, 8 Ant Walker, 9 Matty Fozard, 10 Dan Fleming, 11 Rhodri Lloyd, 12 Chester Butler, 13 Ben Evans, 14 Ollie Olds, 15 Curtis Davies, 16 Joe Burke, 17 Bailey Antrobus, 18 Connor Davies, 19 Mike Butt, 21 Tom Hopkins.