The Cook Islands men's squad were based on Teesside in the North East of England and their arrival in colourful style was greeted by schoolchildren and local amateur rugby league team players, a flag parade and a local brass band who played the nation's national anthem. The team of 24 plus two standbys included five Super League players. The squad were based at Rockliffe Hall near Darlington and trained at the town's Mowden Park Stadium. Photo by Sarah Caldecott courtesy of the Northern Echo, Darlington whose report on the arrival is here
Their arrival was also featured in the regional news on the UK's Tyne Tees Television. Watch the report
Tevin Arona (Auckland) Tinirau Arona (Wakefield) Geoffrey Daniela (St Marys Saints) Johnathon Ford (Featherstone) Anthony Gelling (Auckland) Kayal Iro (Cronulla Sharks) Makahesi Makatoa (Parramatta Eels) Steven Marsters (Thhirroul Butchers) Esan Marsters (Gold Coast Titans) Davvy Moale (South Sydney Rabbitohs) Tepai Moeroa (Melbourne Storm) Dylan Napa (Catalans Dragons) Ruatapu Ngatikaura (Wests Tigers) Moses Noovao-McGreal (Norths Devils) Pride Pettersen-Robati (New Zealand Warriors) Dom Peyroux (Toulouse) Brendan Piakura (Brisbane Broncos) Reuben Poter (Tweed Heads Seagulls) Vincent Rennie (Newtown Jets) Reubenn Rennie (Newtown Jets) CAPTAIN Brad Takairangi, (Hull KR) Aaron Teroi (Central Queensland Capras) Zane Tetevano (Leeds Rhinos) Paul Ulberg (London Broncos)
Standby players: Adam Tangata (Halifax) Malachi Morgan (Southport Tigers)
COACH: Tony Iro, a former New Zealand international and a veteran of 25 tests.
ROUND 1: Wednesday 19 October at Leigh Sports Village, Leigh. 1930 BST (0830 Cook Islands time)
Wales 12 vs COOK ISLANDS 18
Cook Islands - Tries: Anthony Gelling, Davvy Moale, Steve Marsters. Goals: Steve Marsters. Penalty: Steve Marsters
IN BRIEF: Steve Marsters scored ten points as Cook Islands came from behind to beat a stubborn Wales 18-12 in their opening Rugby League World Cup match in Leigh. Right wing Marsters caught Brad Takairangi’s kick midway through the second half as Cook Islands overturned a four-point half-time deficit and consigned Wales to an eighth straight World Cup loss.
VERDICT OF COACH, TONY IRO (speaking to BBC Sport)
"Wales for the most part of the game stuck to us and I thought they played really well. I was really proud of our boys for sticking to their guns too, because I thought there was the opportunity there a couple of time that they could have let things go against them but they kept turning up!
ROUND 2: Tuesday 25 October at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington. 1930 BST (0830 Cook Islands time)
Papua New Guinea 32 vs COOK ISLANDS 16
Cook Islands - Tries: Ulberg, Gelling, Iro. Goals: Steve Marsters. Penalties: Steve Marsters
IN BRIEF: Two tries from Rodrick Tai helped Papua New Guinea get the better of the Cook Islands to keep their Rugby League World Cup hopes alive. PNG were made to work hard in the opening 40 minutes, leading just 10-8 at the break. Despite the Kuki's getting three tries of their own, in the end they could not live with their opponents as they failed to follow up their opening win over Wales with a second success.
ROUND 3: Sunday 30 October at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesborough. 1430 GMT (0430 Cook Islands time)
Tonga 92 vs COOK ISLANDS 10
Cook Islands - Tries: Marsters,Arona. Goals: Arona
IN BRIEF: After a win against Wales and a fighting performance in defeat to Papua New Guinea, Cook Islands came in to this game with an outside hope of causing an upset. Those hopes were almost extinguished inside the first minute, with Tonga registering the game’s opening try in the very first set. A Cook Islands try on 10 minutes was disallowed by the video referee. Cook Islands managed to get on the board in the 69th minute. After forcing a drop out, they shifted the ball right and Steve Marsters managed to hold off Tupou enough to get the ball down right in the corner. The team were eliminated from the competition after this match
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The Rugby League World Cup is one of the longest running World Cup tournaments in world sport. The Rugby League World Cup was first raised by the Fédération Française de Rugby à XIII (FFRXIII) in the 1930s but it took until 1953 before the rest of the then International Rugby League Board (IRLB) accepted the proposal. The Cook Islands were playing in group D and ranked 22 in the world.
Coach Tony Iro was hoping to take The Cook Islands out of the group stage for the very first time. The Kukis took confidence from their campaign in 2013 where they beat this year’s first opponents Wales and from their win against them again in their first match this time round. But despite a hard fight in round two they weren't strong enough to defeat Papua New Guinea. And Tonga proved just too strong with a thumping victory over the Kukis in their final group match.
PREVIOUS RECORD: 2000: Fourth in Group 2 (eliminated), 2013: Second in Group D (eliminated)
"ABOUT MORE THAN WHO WINS"
Speaking at the official Rugby League World Cup launch, Cook Islands captain Brad Takairangi looked ahead to what was set to be the most competitive tournament of its kind yet. Takairangi discusses the pride he feels in representing his nation, And for him it's not all about who wins “My dad's a Cook Islander, so it's just about making him proud and my family proud"