Local Name: Kuki Airani
Team Name: The Kuki’s
Nicknames: The Kuki’s, The Cooks
Colours: Green and Yellow
First WC Appearance: 2000
No. Of RLWC Titles: 0
Governing Body: Cook Islands Rugby League Association
Cook Islands Rugby League Test Match Previews and Score Predictions
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One of the real minnows of World Rugby League but in recent times thy have really started to progress in the sport and the sport has really grown in popularity and participation in the Cook Islands ever since their first appearance in the 2000 World Cup.
The Cook Islands are an archipelago of 15 small Islands in the Pacific Ocean and can now boast many players from both Super League and the NRL.
Cook Islands Rugby League
Although the Cook Islands will be amongst the underdogs for the 2013 Rugby League World Cup, there is every chance that they will cause an upset or 2 thanks to there all action and often unpredictable style of play mixed with the quality of players that they can upon including a number of players from the National Rugby League NRL)
Rugby League first officially started in the Cook Islands in 1980 and since then Rugby League has gone on to become the countries national sport.
‘The Cooks’ have been able to call upon a number of high quality players including Keith Lulia, Frank Watene, George Tuakura, Frank Pritchard and Zeb Taia.
Under the tutelage of both Kevin Iro and Matt Rua former New Zealand internationals (who both are from the Cook Islands), the Cooks are sure to be one of the more popular teams for neutrals.
Cook Islands National Rugby League Team
Although the Cook Islands are one of the sports smallest nations, the country does have strong links to New Zealand that makes it easy for their top players to make the move to New Zealand and learn their trade in a professional environment and that is something that they have used to their advantage throughout their history.
Colours and Kit
The playing strip of the Cook Islands in predominantly green with touches of yellow and whilst the exact design changes from one big tournament to another, they are always easy to recognise out on the field.
As a relative minnow of the world game, the Cook Islands are yet to win a major title or trophy but they have enjoyed success in regional competitions including winning the 2004 Pacific Cup held in New Zealand.
As a smaller nation, the Cook Islands have never really had a major superstar of the sport play for them but they have featured many players who have enjoyed long and successful careers either in the NRL or the Super League.
The Cooks feature a mixture of home grown stars and heritage players including the likes of Anthony Gelling, Steven Marsters, Brad Takairangi, Alex Glenn, Dominique Peyroux, Adam Tangata, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Jordan Rapana, Dylan Napa, Esan Marsters, Francis Molo, Zane Tetevano and Tinirau Arona.
The Cooks early years were spent playing in the Pacific Cup or welcoming a touring British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) side, with their first ever match been played in Rarotonga (the capital of the Cook Islands) when they face Niue in a 22-8 win.
In 1995, they participated in the Emerging Nations competition, which they went on to win by defeating the United States, Russia, Scotland and then Ireland in the final.
In 2000, they made their debut on the global stage when they qualified for the Rugby League World Cup (RLWC) but they failed to make it out of their group after suffering losses to Wales and New Zealand before drawing with Lebanon.
They failed to reach the 2008 edition after losing all of their matches in the Pacific qualification process against Fiji, Tonga, and Samoa.
In 2009, they did enjoy a return to form in local competition when they defeated Samoa to qualify for the Pacific Cup but after a strong win against Fiji, they lost to the hosts Papua New Guinea in the final played in Port Moresby in front of over 10,000 at the iconic Lloyd Robson Oval.
They did make it through to the 2013 RLWC and after suffering defeats to the USA and Tonga, the Cook Islands picked up arguably their biggest ever win when they defeated the hosts Wales.
Due to the Cook Islands having a relatively small playing pool of full time professionals, they have to rely on players not been injured or unavailable for selection and that can make it difficult for them to develop consistency but on their day, they can be a match for all but the top countries in world Rugby League.
As one of the sports underdogs on the global stage, it can be difficult to find betting markets for the Cook Islands matches but if you use one of the top online bookmakers, such as those featured on this page, if markets become available, you will be the first to have access to them.
The Cook Islands have enjoyed a varied life in International Rugby League as they have faced not just other Pacific Island countries but also countries from North America, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa.
Amongst the nations that they have faced in representative action have included American Samoa, Fiji, Ireland, Lebanon, New Zealand, Niue, Papua New Guinea (PNG), Rotuma, Russia, Samoa, South Africa, Tonga, the United States and Wales.