Cook Islands women's rugby league team players celebrate after upsetting England in the 2017 World Cup. 20071615
The national women’s rugby league side is expected to play a Test match in October in preparation for next year’s World Cup.
Cook Islands Rugby League has appointed Anthony (Rusty) Matua as the new coach of the national women’s team.
The Auckland-based mentor who served as the head coach of the New Zealand Maori Ferns last year will guide the Moanas in the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
Matua, who is a Cook Islander, was also the assistant coach of the Kiwi Ferns in the 2013 World Cup England.
He then coached the New Zealand women’s team in the 2014 Trans-Tasman Test win against Australia and the inaugural NRL Nines win in 2015.
Charles Carlson, the president of Cook Islands Rugby League, said they were pleased to acquire the services of Matua.
The new coach has over 10 years of experience coaching women’s grade with proven success record at club, national and international levels, Carlson said.
“Rusty is a Cook Islander and great to have someone of his experience to coach our national squad,” Carlson said.
“We will work on a calendar 2020/2021 in the next couple of weeks pending on this Covid-19 response of course.
“One of the suggestion is to play a trial game in New Zealand for the New Zealand based players and a trial game for the Australia-based players in Australia and then select a national squad to play an international Test match in October/November 2020 to be confirmed.”
Carlson said the Moanas have not played any 13s game since the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
“So it is critical we have a couple of games leading up to the World Cup. This will also help expose some of the new girls that we haven’t seen before and develop a large pool of players to select from.”
As for the men, Carlson said they are scheduled to play a Test match in October or November but this is yet to be confirmed due to Covid-19.
Cook Islands men’s and women’s teams will be based just 75km away from each other at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup in England – but their challenges will be a world apart.
The women, experienced veterans as they head to their second World Cup, will be based in the old cathedral town of York alongside the other three teams in their pool, New Zealand, Australia and France.
The men return next year, after missing qualifying for the 2017 tournament. They will be the sole team in the north-east England football stronghold of Middlesbrough – hosting its first ever rugby league international.
They too are in a pool of death, coming up against Tonga, Papua New Guinea and Wales.
Anthony (Rusty) Matua
• 2018 Domestic Coach of the Year finalist - NZRL
• 2017 Coach of the Year – Manurewa Marlins Rugby League
• 2016 Coach of the Year – Manurewa Marlins Rugby League