Friday 15 July 2022 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in Netball, Sports
Cook Islands will be competing internationally for the first time since the gold medal win at the 2019 Pacific Games in Samoa.
The side will be battling against host Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tonga for one of the two spots available for the Netball World Cup 2023 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Marjorie Toru will captain the side assisted by Natalia Short. Toru who will be leading the national team for the first time is excited about the challenge ahead.
“It won’t be easy, we are not taking any teams lightly. For us the biggest challenge is competing at the international level, we haven’t played at international level since the Pacific Games in 2019 while other teams like Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have had some game time,” Toru, the skipper of Avatiu Dragonflies, said.
“We will take it a game at a time rather than focusing on the overall challenge which is to finish in top two.”
The majority of the players (13) in the travelling 15-member team are Rarotonga based.
Toru said: “This really helped the team build on the game structure. We will be meeting up with the remaining members and it won’t be a major challenge for them to adapt to the structure as we have played together before.”
“We also had some good build up matches against the men’s team as well as the weekly Rarotonga Club Competition which really helped us with match fitness and getting our game structure right.”
Toru said the team had a good mix of experienced and young players who were excited to make their national debut.
Six players – Jordayn Matutu, Romehael Rauraa, Nicole Tiaore, Mele Poaru, Iva Piakura and Norma Pepe – will be donning the national jumper for the first time.
Rauraa, who plays for Arorangi Flames in the domestic competition, said: “I’m really thrilled to be part of the team and looking forward to the whole experience and learning from our senior players.”
“I look up to Marjorie our captain because of her leadership, drive and passion for the sport and the country.”
The 21-year-old Rauraa took up netball at the age of seven in Australia. She moved to Rarotonga in 2016 and joined Arorangi.
“I come from a sport loving family and everyone is involved in some sort of sports so it wasn’t hard to find that motivation to join netball,” she said.
“I just like to acknowledge Evo (Evolution) Sports and all clubs and delegations as well as my families and friends for supporting me.”
The national side will take on Papua New Guinea on Wednesday, July 20 at 5.30pm in its first match before battling Samoa on Thursday. The side will play Tonga the following day and Fiji on Saturday, July 23 to complete the round robin and the qualifiers.
Cook Islands team – Alanna Smith, Marjorie Toru (captain), Jordayn Matutu, Rochelle Teiri, Alex Iro, Maeva Carr, Ashley Iro, Romehael Rauraa, Natalia Short (vice-captain), Nicole Tiaore, Ailish Akavi, Eri-Te-Ana Short. Travelling Reserves: Mele Poaru, Iva Piakura, Norma Pepe. Non travelling reserves: Skye Tauia, Kiana Sword-Tua, Pare Noovao.