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Youngsters set to lead

Friday 6 January 2023 | Written by Rashneel Kumar | Published in League, Rugby league, Sports

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Youngsters set to lead
Lady Bulldogs against Lady Panthers in last year’s League Nines in Paradise tournament. The two teams alongside Bears will be battling for the 2023 title. 22010904

The pioneers of women’s rugby league in the Cook Islands have stepped aside to allow upcoming players to lead the charge in this weekend’s League Nines in Paradise tournament.

The annual two-day tournament which kicks off this afternoon at the National Stadium in Nikao will feature 11 teams across three categories – six open men’s, three open women’s and two under-18 men’s sides.

The women’s division featuring defending champions Lady Bulldogs, Lady Panthers and Lady Bears is bracing for an intense three-way battle for the title.

Lady Bulldogs will miss the services of veteran Patty Taea who recently gave birth to her first child. The team will be led by youngster Tehinnah Tatuava, who featured for the Cook Islands at last year’s World Cup in England.

Rima Browne will lead Lady Panthers while Lady Bears will be spearheaded by Stephanie Nooroa.

Cook Islands Women’s Rugby League committee member Peggy Matapo said: “Those of us who have been in the committee are making way for the upcoming players to lead the teams and eventually take our place in the committee.”

“This year’s tournament will be a lot more exciting with new players featuring for these teams. Tupapa and Arorangi will be aiming to hopefully take the cup away from Titikaveka this year.”

Visiting Cook Islands international Kiana Takairangi and sisters Wairakau and Vaine Greig, who ran the kid’s rugby league clinic earlier this week, will also be present at the tournament.

Matapo hopes their presence will bring the best out of the local players.

In the fiercely competed open men’s category, defending champions Tupapa Panthers lead Pool A which also has Titikaveka Bulldogs and Arorangi Bears 2.

The domestic 13s season champions Avatiu Nikao Eels are the top seed in Pool B and will face Arorangi Bears 1 and Ngatangiia Sea Eagles.

In the 2022 Nines tournament final, Darren Piri’s Panthers defeated Albert Nicholas’ Eels 23-19 in a closely fought battle.

Fixtures

Friday – 3pm Women Panthers-Bears, 3.25pm Men - A Bears 2-Bulldogs, 3.50pm Men - B Bears 1-Sea Eagles, 4.15pm U18 Panthers-Bears, 4.40pm Women Bulldogs-Bears, 5.05pm Men - A Panthers-Bulldogs, 5.30pm Men - B Eels-Sea Eagles, 5.55pm End Of Day One.

Saturday – 1pm U18 Panthers-Bears, 1.25pm Women Bulldogs-Panthers, 1.50pm Men - A Panthers-Bears 2, 2.15pm Men - B Eels-Bears 1, 2.40pm Women 2nd Ranked-3rd Ranked – Loser, Placed 3rd, 3.05pm Men 1st Ranked PA-2nd Ranked PB – Men’s Semi Final, 3.30pm Men 2nd Ranked PA-1st Ranked PB – Men’s Semi Final, 3.55pm Men 3rd Ranked PA-3rd Ranked PB – Men’s 5th & 6th Placing Match, 4.20pm U18 Panthers-Bears – U18 1st & 2nd Placing Match. Presentation Straight After Match, 4.45pm Women 1st Ranked-Winner Match 14 – Women’s 1st & 2nd Placing Match. Presentation Straight After Match, 5.10pm Men Loser Match 15-Loser Match 16 – Men’s 3rd & 4th Placing Match. Presentation Straight After Match, 5.35pm Men Winner Match 15-Winner Match 16 – Men’s 1st & 2nd Placing Match.