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