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CIRL eyeing four nations tournament

Friday 20 January 2012 | Published in Regional


Plans to include the Cook Islands in a northern hemisphere rugby league four-nations tournament this year alongside England, Wales and France are progressing, Cook Islands Rugby League (CIRL) president Charles Carlson says.

The Cook Islands has submitted its proposal and interest in joining the international competition, which would be held towards the end of this year, and is currently awaiting confirmation from league officials in England.

Carlson said the tournament would be used as a test and warm-up for the following years Rugby League World Cup.

On the international front, the World Cup 2013 is definitely our ultimate goal and we want to do exceptionally there, Carlson said.

We have a proposed tour to Europe at the end of the year as part of our prep for the World Cup...This will be massive for rugby league and most importantly for the Cook Islands as a whole leading into the World Cup.

An international tour like the one being proposed would remove a lot of worry for Cook Islands selectors ahead of the 2013 World Cup.

Players who line up for the Cook Islands in the proposed tour will not be allowed to change allegiances to another international club until after the World Cup.

International rugby league regulations state that when a player plays a senior international match for a country, he cannot play senior representative rugby league for any other country until the end of the next World Cup tournament, or the expiry of two years, whichever is earlier.

The rule means anyone who plays for the Cook Islands in an international match this year will be tied to the team until after the World Cup.

Many of the Cook Islands international players also have the possibility of playing for other nations, including Australia and New Zealand.

The allegiance rule means they would have two choices.

The first, selecting the Cook Islands as their team, will mean players have a better chance of actually seeing game time in the World Cup.

The second choice, nominating the highly-competitive Kiwis or Kangaroos as their preferred team, means players face higher stakes all round.

They risk not being selected in the squads and not playing in the World Cup, but gain the very good possibility of playing in the World Cup grand final if they are selected.

Carlson said CIRL was looking to lock in its best players early to ensure the rugby league powerhouses of Australia and New Zealand dont poach them first.

This tour will then lock our professional players playing in the NRL and Super League competition for the Cook Islands at the World Cup, otherwise New Zealand or Australia will select and lock up to 60 or 70 of the best players per country for themselves and eventually select only about 30 of those players with the rest missing out, he said.