Zane Tetevano in action for Cook Islands during last year’s World Cup. GETTY IMAGES/ 23101346
Zane Tetevano hopes to wind the clock back 14 years by helping Cook Islands to an upset win in his comeback after suffering a stroke earlier this year.
and captain Brad Takairangi are the only survivors from the Cook Islands team
which beat Samoa, Tonga and Fiji in the 2009 Pacific Cup and the pair believe
there are similarities with the team taking on the Kumuls tonight.
and Zane were part of a young team, very much like we've got here now,”
had maybe one bloke, Benny Vaeau, with NRL experience, and the rest of us were
pretty much under 20s players but we had no worries in the world.
hadn’t played NRL before, so we didn't know who we were playing against. We
just came out and played footy and we ended up making the final against Papua
pair have been telling the young players in the Cook Islands squad under new
Karmichael Hunt about their experiences in 2009 and how the Pacific
Championships and international calendar has given them a chance to build a
Islands play the Kumuls tonight and will stay in Port Moresby to take on Fiji
the following weekend, with the final between the two highest finishing teams
on November 5.
Pacific Championships will again be staged next year and Cook Islands are also
set to feature in the newly created 2025 World Series for a place in the 2026 World
really good for Cook Islands rugby league to have these two games over the next
couple of years because we’ve always struggled to get games for the Cooks,”
more games we can get the more appealing it is for boys like Joey Manu,
Valentine Holmes and Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad to play.
all qualify for Cook Islands but because there's been no games, there's been no
point in them coming back."
likes of Tepai Moeroa (Storm), Dylan Napa (Roosters), Frank and Michael Molo
(Dragons) and Broncos duo Xavier Willison and Brendan Piakura were also
unavailable for the Pacific Championships.
end goal obviously is to make the 2026 World Cup and if we can make that, and
have all the boys who qualify for Cooks come back, it's really exciting what
could happen," Takairangi said.
got the 2025 World Series, and our main aim is to build our squad for
is also hoping to be part of a bright new future for the Cook Islands if he
makes a successful return against the Kumuls on Sunday.
32-year-old Sydney Roosters premiership winner suffered a stroke during the
warm-up for training with Leeds in May and has not played since, but he has not
given up on playing again in the NRL.
excited to play rugby league and kind of nervous too, about putting everything
under stress for the first time,” Tetevano said.
wise, I am sweet. I have been fully cleared to play and I’m still hungry.
just see how these next two games go and make a decision after that.
want to stick around as much as I can and help out these young guys. Myself and
Brad came in as young fellows and now we are trying to set a standard.”
has told the players what it was like in 2009, with no-one expect the Cook
Islands to win a game and the crowd outside the stadium in Moresby for the
final almost as big as the one inside.
went to Cairns to play Samoa and the winner of that was going up to PNG. We
were the same as everyone else; we just thought we were just going to Cairns for
a seven-day holiday, and then going to go home,” he said.
ended up beating Samoa and five of the boys had to go back to Sydney to get
their passports, because no one expected we’d be coming to PNG.
was telling the boys what the stadiums and crowds were like. It was crazy, they
were knocking down the fences trying to get in.
expecting a real hostile crowd on Sunday (tonight), but the boys are going to
embrace it because we've done it before - we’ve come over here and produced
some upsets, and we're looking forward to doing the same thing again.”
and Takairangi both praised the coaching of Hunt, who never got the chance to
represent his Cook Islands-born mother as a player.
K's come in, he has some awesome principles that kind of align where I stand as
well,” Tetevano said.
been brought up on my Cook Island side, but all these years that I've been
playing rugby league in Australia, I feel like I lost a lot of my identity so
being around this group kind of draws me back in a little bit.
still don't know how to dance, I still know how to play the drums and stuff
like that, but it is the language stuff that I’m still trying to figure out
more games there’s a lot more guys who will probably stick around a bit longer
Cook Islands versus the Kumuls match will kick off at 7pm (Cook Islands time).