United States Rugby League
United States Rugby League

Cook Islands Rugby League

By Philip Kingsland, (RLP RLWC Correspondent) Date: 30/10/13

All local eyes will be facing downwards tomorrow night, as the Rugby League World parachutes into Bristol as an optimistic USA squad face off against the Cook Islands at the Memorial Stadium at 8 o’clock (GMT).

With the event organisers tight lipped about ticket sales across all fixtures,with the exception of a scattering of eleventh hour sell-outs, it is anyone’s guess as to how many people will show up to the 12,000 capacity stadium.

Regardless of the number of paying bystanders, the entourage of entertainers that has been assembled for the night is predicted to be formidable. According to a press release issued by Bristol City Council last week, upwards of a thousand dancers and musicians are ready to smash and tumble around to the beat of jungle drums – a number that compares well to the opening ceremony at Cardiff last weekend. 

And it won’t just be local dancers that are expected to send shockwaves. Still revelling in their success across the channel, the USA Tomahawks are sitting smitten alongside Italy in the giant slayers club. However, their next opponent in the likes of the Cook Islands will comprise a completely different challenge by style and physical composition. 

The 12th placed Tomahawks are a completely newly assembled outfit having left many of their regular AMNRL players at the JFK departure lounge and choosing not to reinforce their ranks from the USARL. Their strength can be found within the team’s engine room, as Clint Newton (Penrith Panthers) and Eddie Pettybourne (Wests Tigers) will be looking to enforce a platform in the early stages for skipper five-eighth Joseph Paulo (Parramatta Eels) to lead the direction of the game. Whilst the guts of the team enjoys the safety of NRL experience, credit must be given to the selectors willingness to give the number 7 shirt to Craig Priestly (Southampton Dragons) who is an AMNRL player and Fitness Instructor by trade. 

Almost all of the pre-game trial results were out of character, including the Kiwi’s destruction of the Cook Islands. The Cook Islands are in fact not that accustomed to defeat. Despite only managing a draw to Lebanon in their last World Cup, since 2004 the 14th placed Cook Islands have tallied regular victories against their oceanic neighbours. For the Cook’s, their chances rest on the shoulders of their flamboyant Halfback: Isaac John (Penrith Panthers), and his ability to utilise their strike power in Skipper Zeb Taia (Newcastle Knights) and young flyers such as cross-coded Winger Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders). 

Crucial Element – Momentum can be a double edged sword, but in this case the Tomahawks possess it and it should serve them well. 

Tipping Point – The Cook Islands have yet to score a point during this tournament’s making, if they can score first – watch them rise and the ensuing arm wrestle unfold. On the other hand, if the Tomahawks cross over first, expect the intensity to slip away.

Prediction – A lot has changed since I watched the Forster-Tuncurry Hawks flog the Tomahawks during their Australian Tour of 2000; I think the newly assembled USA will have it by 12+


UK – WED 20:00 (GMT)

AUS – THURS 07:00 (AEDT)

Cook Islands – WED 10:00 (CKT)

USA (NY) – WED 16:00 (EDT)


Squads (17 Man Squads to be announced prior to kick-off)

United States

1. Kristian Freed

2. Bureta Faraimo

3. Michael Garvey

4. Loto Tagaloa

5. Matt Petersen

6. Joseph Paulo (C)

7. Craig Priestly

8. Junior Paulo

9. Joel Luani

10. Eddy Pettybourne

11. Clint Newton

12. Matt Shipway

13. Daniel Howard

14. Tui Samoa

15. Mark Offerdahl

16. Stephen Howard

17. Les Soloai

18. David Marando

19. Judah Lavulo


Cook Islands

1. Drury Low

2. Lulia Lulia 

3. Antony Gellings

4. Keith Lulia

5. Jordan Rapana

6. Brad Takairangi

7. Isaac John 

8. Zane Tetevano

9. Daniel Fepuluai

10. Dylan Napa

11. Domnique Peyroux 

12. Zeb Taia (Captain)

13. Tinirau Arona

14. Sam Brunton

15. Tupou Sopoaga 

16. Adam Tangata

17. Sam Mataora 

18. Joey Matapuku 

19. Jonothan Ford