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23 January 2021

Top bet wary of women’s Nines challenge

Friday 8 January 2021 | Written by CI News Staff | Published in Rugby league, Sports

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Top bet wary of women’s Nines challenge
Women's rugby action during last year's Cook Islands Games . BCI/(Tabby Berg/Creators Hype)/20102145

Rarotonga will head into this weekend’s Cook Islands Rugby League Nines in Paradise as the hot favourites for the women’s title.

The two-day tournament starting today at the National Stadium in Nikao will have four women’s teams competing.

On paper, Rarotonga is the top bet but coach Sharlene Atai is wary of the challenge from the other three teams Wale – Pa Enua, Arorangi Bears and Tupapa.

“I think all four teams are strong and it will be a close and exciting tournament,” Atai, the former Kiwi Fern, said.

“Last year we had two teams but this year the number is up by 100 per cent which is a big improvement for the growth of women sport especially rugby league.

“Also last year we didn’t have any prize money for women’s division but there will be $1500 prize money for the winner this year, so this will surely improve the level of competition between the teams.”

Rarotonga will feature players who played for the champion Avatiu team at the Raro Sevens last month.

Former national sprinter Patricia Taea will lead the side that will also comprise the likes of youngsters Kaiyah Atai and Tehainna Tatuava.

The 14-member Rarotonga squad has been preparing for this tournament for about a month now, building on from their success at the Raro Sevens.

Sharlene Atai is impressed with the raw talent she had seen on the island and hopes tournaments like the Nines in Paradise will help nurture these upcoming players.