Cook Islands v Tonga

Saturday, 17 October

Campbelltown Stadium

Kick-off – 7:30pm

The journey towards the 2017 Rugby League World Cup will continue on Saturday night as Rabbitohs under 20s player Wallace Tangiiti’s Cook Islands side faces off against Tonga in a qualifier at Campbelltown Stadium.

The match – which will decide the final Pacific entrant to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup – will see utility Tangiiti wear the number seven jersey at halfback for the Cook Islands, in a selection that has the Rabbitoh excited to represent his country of origin.

“It’s obviously a huge honour for myself,” said a proud Tangiiti, who is set to play international football before playing first grade.

“I didn’t really expect to be selected, so to get this opportunity so early in my career is definitely a big deal for me. Getting the chance to represent my culture and heritage is amazing, and I’ve learnt a lot already just by being involved in the camp.

“All the boys in this team come from different places, but we’re connected because we’re all from the Cook Islands and having people from back home come in and talk to us about our culture and tradition – it’s definitely made us re-connect. I can’t wait to get this opportunity to play.”

The clash will feature a number of NRL players, including Jordan Rapana, who will play alongside Tangiiti as part of the Cook Islands spine at fullback, while Tonga will boast Solomone Kata, Jorge Taufua, Mahe Fonua, Sika Manu and Manu Ma'u.

Tangiiti appeared in 18 games for the Rabbitohs NYC (under 20s) side in 2015 and played a range of positions from five-eighth and centre, to taking his place in the back-row.

In all, the Cook Islands rep ran for a total of 1398 metres with the ball in hand for six line-breaks and five tries, while also making 338 tackles.

Tangiiti will be looking to put his best foot forward in the qualifying clash as part of what he describes as a talented outfit.

“There’s a lot of talent in this team for sure,” said Tangiiti of his own side ahead of the match.

“A lot of big boys who are just really keen on getting out there and representing, and we’re definitely going to have to be switched on because Tonga have plenty of experience.”

Tangiiti himself got a boost at an opposed session on Thursday when fellow Rabbitoh, Issac Luke arrived – the Kiwi skipper providing some handy hints and tips to his red and green brother.

“It’s certainly an opportunity for me, so to have someone like Issac around giving me some tips is pretty special,” said Wallace.

“At Club level, all the more experienced boys in first grade are always willing to lend a hand so having Issac around doing the same at international level – even though he’s the Captain of New Zealand – is awesome.”

The match, which kicks off at 7.30pm, will be streamed live via nrl.com.

Tickets for the match are $10 for adults, $5 for Concessions and Under-16s, and $20 for Families (2 adults and 3 children), and will be available at the gate.

The Cook Islands’ team to take on Tonga is:

 

PLAYER

CLUB

1

Jordan Rapana

Canberra Raiders

2

Drury Low

Narellan Jets

3

Anthony Gelling

Wigan Warriors

4

Chance Peni

Wests Tigers

5

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad

Melbourne Storm

6

Jono Ford

Wyong Roos

7

Wallace Tangiiti

South Sydney Rabbitohs

8

Uiti Baker

Manly Sea Eagles

9

Aaron Teroi

Melbourne Storm

10

Sam Mataora

Newcastle Knights

11

Esan Marsters

Wests Tigers

12

Makahesi Makatoa

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

13

Francis Molo

Brisbane Broncos

14

Carne Doyle-Manga

Wyong Roos

15

Vincent Rennie

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

16

Vinny Ngaro

Manly Sea Eagles

17

Fred Pakutoa

Wentworthville Magpies

18

Rueben Rennie

Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs

Coach

Alex Chan

Wentworthville Magpies

 

Tonga’s team to take on the Cook Islands is:

 

PLAYER

CLUB

1

Solomone Kata

New Zealand Warriors

2

Jorge Taufua

Manly Sea Eagles

3

Mahe Fonua

Melbourne Storm

4

Moses Pangai

Townsville Blackhawks

5

Delouise Hoeter

Wests Tigers

6

Pat Politoni

Cronulla Sharks

7

Daniel Foster

Penrith Panthers

8

Albert Vete

New Zealand Warriors

9

Joel Luani

Wests Tigers

10

Peni Terepo

Parramatta Eels

11

Sika Manu

Penrith Panthers

12

Manu Ma’u

Parramatta Eels

13

Joe Ofahengaue

Brisbane Broncos

14

Nafe Seluine

Burleigh Bears

15

Ukuma Ta’ai

Huddersfield Giants

16

Ben Murdoch-Masila

Penrith Panthers

17

Leilani Latu

Penrith Panthers

18

David Fifita

Cronulla Sharks

Coach

Kristian Woolf

Townsville Blackhawks