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Cooks and Samoa kick start international rugby league action

Thursday 5 May 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in


Cooks and Samoa kick start international rugby league action
The Cook Islands qualified for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. Photo: Facebook / Cook Islands Sports

International rugby league is set to return next month for Pacific nations with the Cook Islands to play Samoa as part of a double-header.

The two nations will play on June 25 at Cambelltown Stadium in New South Wales, Australia, with their match to be followed by Fiji against Papua New Guinea in the same stadium.

The Cook Islands News quotes Australian Rugby League (ARL) chairman Peter V'landys as saying the round would celebrate the rebirth of the international game following the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The Commission has made it clear that growing international rugby league would be a priority and we are delivering on that promise," V'landys said.

"This representative round will provide a return to the national pride and excitement that international tests produce."

Also on June 25, in Auckland, New Zealand will play Tonga.

V'landys said the Pacific test matches would be vital for those sides, as they prepare for the World Cup later this year.

"This is part of a long-term plan to grow the international game in conjunction with International Rugby League and member countries. We've seen the growth and success of Tonga in recent years and we want to capitalise on the potential depth of our test playing nations."

Samoa perform the Siva Tau before a test against Fiji in 2019.
Samoa perform the Siva Tau before a test against Fiji in 2019. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said he was pleased about the announcement.

"We are playing Samoa, so this will be a good measure of where we are internationally and a good preparation leading up to the World Cup in October," Carlson said.

"We are pleased to see the support from the Australia rugby league and the NRL towards growing the international game. The ARL and the International Rugby League Federation undoubtedly see the Pacific teams as critical to developing the game internationally. "

The Papua New Guinea Rugby Football League says it is grateful for the return of international rugby league after a two-year absence.

It says with the 2021 Rugby League World Cup re-scheduled to this year, the Kumuls are looking forward to the mid-year Test as an opportunity to build its preparations towards the World Cup.

The body said it was completing the process for the appointment of Michael Marum's successor as coach with an announcement due to be made this week.

"The resignation of long-time Kumuls coach Michael Marum as well as the retirement of key players over the last two years, will provide a great opportunity for new players to continue to build on the great success that the national men's rugby league team have had over the last eight years," it said.