Cook Islands’ Tepai Moeroa and Kayal Iro defend against Tonga. Cook Islands lost the match 10-92. 22103014
Cook Islands will be hoping to gain exposure and experience from NZ Warriors’ commitment to have Māori and Pasifika representation in their sides at all levels, forming a new partnership to allow players a pathway towards the NRL and NRLW.
tandem with the Pasifika Aotearoa Collective (PAC), aimed towards seeing a
stronger voice for players from the likes of Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands,
Niue and Tokelau, the Warriors will play their part in providing opportunities
for Māori and Pasifika players.
PAC-assembled under 15s side already showed their worth to NRL scouts, with
victory over a Sydney Roosters under 15s team last weekend, and the Warriors
have put themselves at the front of the queue to benefit from the talent influx
taken by Australian outlet SBS has the number of Pasifika players making up 45
per cent of the NRL, despite only being two percent of Australia’s general
Auckland being one of the world’s largest Pasifika communities, with close to
400,000 people of Pacific origin, according to MFAT, the synergy with the
Warriors ahead of other NRL sides is natural.
for the Warriors, the chance to tap into emerging Māori and Pasifika players
coming through will be key as the NRL's only Kiwi club continues to push for a
Islands rugby league coach Tony Iro, who is also Warriors’ pathways and development coach, told Cook Islands
idea for the collaboration is to connect the Warriors club with our developing
Pasifika coaches, trainers, administrators and players to help develop their
skills and talents.”
the Pacific nations and NZ Maori are all at different stages of their
development as rugby league nations, so as a collective it allows all of their
members the opportunity to be engaged in any camps or conventions we run as a
ultimate goal is to help further develop our Pasifika coaches and management,
which will hopefully improve the ability of our young men and open up further
opportunities for them.”
Carlson, president of Cook Islands Rugby League, hailed the initiative from NZ
Warriors as “good news”.
Warriors managed to get their reserve grade back in the NSW Cup including their
U20s and U18s back … this creates a lot of opportunities for players to be in
the Warriors system. Certainly, an advantage having Tony there and hopefully
attract more of our Kuki players into the system,” Carlson said.
is an excellent pathway for young Pacific players wanting a career path in
league. It will be hard being the only NRL (club) in NZ so a lot of commitment
and dedication is required from these young players to make the team.”
said players such as Kayal Iro, Eric Newbigging, Adam Tangata and others went
through the Warriors system.
the past few years, Pasifika teams have made rugby league stand up and take
2017, Tonga stunned the game with their performance at the Rugby League World
Cup, coming within one incorrect decision of reaching the final, before going
on to defeat Australia in 2018.
go even better, Samoa built on their arch-rivals’ success, and became the first
Pasifika team to reach the final, even if it ended in defeat to Australia.
with the international game coming to the fore, and Pasifika certain to play a
huge part in that, Warriors director of recruitment Andrew McFadden
the Warriors want to “tap into” the obvious talent on show.
and Pasifika have always made up a huge portion of our side. Obviously the
impact they’re having on the game, namely in the World Cup with the emergence
of Samoa, Tonga and Fiji.
is growing, and it’s great players are committing to their nations they want to
play for. It's not about money anymore, it's about having passion.