Written by Callum Walker
South Africa and Cook Islands go head-to-head in a vital Rugby League World Cup qualifier 7pm tonight. The winner will go through to play the USA in what is dubbed the “repechage round” to be in with a chance of representing their nation in the 2021 competition.
Both sides have named their squads for the upcoming fixture with South Africa including Tomas Harris and Jackson Frei of the NRL’s Cronulla Sharks and New Zealand Warriors respectively.
Cook Islands, meanwhile, name nine stars on the NRL roster, with Troy Dargan (Brisbane Broncos), Charnze Nicol-Klokstad, Reuben Porter (Canberra Raiders), Kayal Iro, Brodie Tamarua (NZ Warriors) Tepa Moeroai, Marata Niukore, Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels), and Steven Marsters (St George Illawarra Dragons) all included.
Cook Islands head coach Tony Iro – father of Kayal – spoke of the desire to plan ahead with the squad he has named and predicted a hard battle against South Africa.
“This Cook Island team is a good look to the future with up to nine players set to make their international debuts in the Cook Island jersey.” Iro said.
“There is a good mix of players with NRL club experience and players who are performing well in the Queensland and NSW Cup competitions.”
“We know that South Africa will present a tough challenge and we are looking forward to the match.”
South Africa boss Jon Wilson also predicted a tough battle, but backed his players to play with passion and dedication.
“We have been building the nucleus of this side over the past 2 years and I believe we have a very strong team.”
“As is evident in our matches against Malta and Italy last year, the players commitment is unrivalled, and we have a good blend of youth and experience.”
“We know the Cook Islands will come out with a strong team and we will have to be on our game to foot it with them.”
South Africa Rhinos squad:
Joel Tubbs (Berkley Eagles), Kamren Cryer (Blacktown Workers), Ash Bull, Jason Cutler (Carina Tigers), Louis Musson (Concord Burwood Wolves), Tomas Harris (Cronulla Sharks), Damian Diedricks (Elsburg Bears) Jason King (Emerald Tigers) Erasmus Van Zyl (Fingal Bay RL), Bevan De Vries (London Skolars), Keegan Turner (Manly Warringhah), Jackson Frei (New Zealand Warriors), Brendan Frei (Norths Devils), Edward Proudler, Jean Charl Smith, Will Smith (South Perth Lions), Mitchell Frei (Souths Logan Magpies), Seth Buckley (St Clair Comets), CobyThomas (Sydney Roosters), Jean Coetzer, Stephanus Esterhuyse, Robin Howell, Allan Kasselman (Tuks RL), Shane Gillham (Tweed Head Seagulls), Byron Hutchinson, Jonathan Soares (Unattached), Darren O’Donovan (West Scarborough), Ayden Perry (Western Suburbs Devils).
Cook Islands Kukis squad:
Sam Mataora (Belconnen), Eric Newbigging (Blacktown), Troy Dargan (Brisbane Bronco, Charnze Nicol-Klokstad, Reuben Porter (Canberra Raiders), Eli Noovao, AaronT eroi (CQ Capras), John Puna, (Easts Tigers) Reuben Rennie, Vincent Rennie (Mounties), Moses Noovao-Mcgreal, Pride Petterson-Robati,Paul Ulberg (Norths Devils) Kayal Iro, Brodie Tamarua (NZ Warriors) Tepa Moeroai, Marata Niukore, Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels), Steven Marsters (St George Dragons), Josh Minhinnick (Wentworthville).