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Friday 23 September 2011 | Published in Regional


Two current New Zealand Warriors and two former Warriors will line-up for the Cook Islands against the New Zealand representative squad in next months special test match.

Isaac John, who has made nine first-grade appearances for the Warriors since 2009, has been selected along with 2011 Junior Warriors prop Nathaniel Peteru in the Cook Islands side.

They are joining two other players with Warriors links for the October 6 test match at BCI Stadium.

Front rower Karl Temata played 52 games for the Warriors between 2002 and 2005 before joining the London Broncos, now known as the Harlequins, in the English Super League.

Cook Islands Rugby League international director Kevin Iro said the team was not expecting the include any English Super League players in its ranks, so being able to get Harlequins prop Temata to play was an unexpected bonus for the country.

Temata has a wealth of experience that he will bring to the October 6 squad, and Iro said it would be a pleasure to see him take to the field again.

A smaller Temata played alongside Iro in the 2000 Rugby League World Cup, then taking position on the wing.

Iro said the team was not looking at bringing over players from England for the Kiwi-Kuki test match because of the high costs of travel it would incur.

But Temata offered to pay his own way, and the Cook Islands squad jumped at the chance to have the senior playing in its ranks.

Having a guy that experienced in the team is awesome for the Cook Islands, Iro said.

And him offering to pay his own way just shows how devoted he is and how keen he is to advance Cook Islands rugby league himself.

Former Warrior Neccrom Areaiti was also named in the squad. Now playing for North Sydney, Areaiti made 25 appearances for the Junior Warriors last year including their National Youth Competition Toyota Cup grand final win against South Sydney.

The Cook Islands will play under the direction of former Kangaroo David Farleigh.

Though Farleigh will take up an assistant coaching position with the Penrith Panthers next year, there is also a Warriors link though his current role as an assistant coach with the team.

The Cook Islands squad includes a number of other players with NRL experience including Tinirau Arona, Sam Brunton, Jonathan Ford, Drury Low, Sam Mataora, Brad Takairangi and Zane Tetevano.

Iro said the young squad pointed to an exciting future for the Cook Islands representative team.

With the 2013 Rugby League World Cup still about two years away, Iro said it would be hard to predict what the Cook Islands squad may look like but said the nation had a right to be excited.

Why were excited is that so much of our squad made their debut NRL debut in the last 12 months and theyre all 20 or 21 years old.

There are also some top players like Jeff Daniela, who plays for the Tigers, that couldnt play for us because of injury and so many under 20s are coming through as well.

So in two years time the players we have on the field now will be 23 or 24, which is ideal, plus all these under 20s coming through... the future is looking good for the Cook Islands.

- Eric Parnis

Coach: David Fairleigh