More Top Stories

Rugby league

Moana target 2025 World Cup

11 November 2022

Eels, Panthers ready for battle

Saturday 11 February 2023 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports


Eels, Panthers ready for battle
Avatiu Nikao Eels will miss the services of seasoned campaigner Lai Rogorogoivalu, left, pictured during last month’s League Nines in Paradise tournament, in today’s clash against Tupapa Panthers. 23021030

The Swamp at Avatiu will host an intense battle between archrivals, Avatiu Nikao Eels and Tupapa Panthers, in round one of the Cook Islands Rugby League 13s competition.

The 2023 domestic 13s season kicked off yesterday with country neighbours Titikaveka Bulldogs taking on Ngatangiia Matavera Sea Eagles at Teimurimotia Park. The Sea Eagles won the match 20-10.

However it is today’s clash between town neighbours, the Eels and the Panthers that many are looking forward to.

The home side Eels will march into the clash brimming with confidence following their win at the League Nines in Paradise tournament last month.

However the side will be without some of their key players including seasoned campaigner Lai Rogorogoivalu who has left the country following the Nines tournament.

Youngsters Maeva Robati and Tamatoa Nicholas who also played instrumental roles in the Nines victory have returned to New Zealand.

Coach Clive Nicholas said they have put their faith in the remaining players to carry the team forward.

Experienced players such as Leki Vahefoou, Joshua Koroi, Viiga Ruepena and Leo Roa will lead the charge for the Eels.

“The training has been good and the boys are still on a high (after the Nines win) and although some of our leading figures have moved on, we have turned our attention on those who are still with us. We are confident they will do a better job,” Nicholas said.

“It is important to start the season with a win especially for the morale of the team. We want to stamp our mark in the competition.”

Tupapa Panthers coach Darren Piri said training in the lead up had been positive.

“The boys have been turning up, they started training about two weeks ago, losing all that Christmas feeding,” Piri said.

“We have been working on stamina, we are looking at how much our forwards can be leading from the front, and at the same time, working on our defensive line.”

He said both teams are missing a couple of players from last season.

“We are all in the same situation, we are missing some players too.

“We will make the numbers up.”

Piri said both teams have a good chance at a win.

“It’s going to be fiery, both teams will work hard to dominate up front, and there will be challenging moments out wide.

“We are looking forward to it.

“It’s the first game for the season so we are looking forward to the support; we need supporters to turn up.”     

The Eels versus Panthers match will kick off at 4pm.