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Wednesday 21 September 2011 | Published in Regional


Although theyre unhappy to be cashing in on the bad fortune of the Wests Tigers, the Cook Islands Rugby League Association says the teams loss may mean the country will pull off a coup.

When Warriors centre Krisnan Inu crossed the line to score New Zealands contentious match-winning try and knock the Tigers out of the NRL finals series, Cook Islands rugby league representatives were cheering for another reason the Tigers loss means Benji Marshall is available for the upcoming Kiwi-Kuki test match.

CIRL international commissioner Kevin Iro said it was hugely exciting for the Cook Islands that it may be able to see Marshall work his magic here at Rarotonga.

Iro said the touring New Zealand team that will come to the Cook Islands for the October 6 special one-off test match could come under the leadership of its captain, Marshall, since he was no longer needed in the NRL competition.

Benji, the official face of the NRL and probably the best player in the world... its massive for the Cooks, Iro said.

A New Zealand Rugby League spokeswoman said she could not confirm whether or not Marshall would make it to the Cook Islands for the Kiwis test match.

Im afraid I cant answer that at this stage, the team hasnt been selected yet and wont be selected until next week, the spokeswoman told Cook Islands News yesterday.

Its rare for the Cook Islands to get such close access to players of Marshalls standard and Iro said the local league fraternity was abuzz with the prospect of watching Benjis brilliance at the BCI Stadium.

Its never happened here before, and it may never happen here again, Iro said.