Cook Islands undisputed Pacific champions
In the tough, physical sport of rugby league, the Cook Islands representative team reigns supreme in the Pacific region.
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Recently, the Cook Islands team took out the Pacific Rim trophy and on 29 October 2005, added the Oceania Cup to its trophy cabinet.
Speaking to the Times on Wednesday, an elated and proud Coach Ina "Bush" Konito, said the Cook Islands team triumphed in a one day round robin competition, wining three games and losing one to take out the trophy.
The competition was staged at the Warringah Stadium in Sydney, Australia before a large crowd. The other teams represented Samoa, Tonga, NZ Maoris and Australian Aborigines. Games started at 8am and went through to 8pm. In the final the Cook Islands beat the NZ Maoris 14-10.
Scoring tries for the CI team were Nono Natua Ngaa (two) and Ruben Enoka.
According to Coach Bush, the competition was organised by the Australian Rugby League with the Pacific Oceania Association. Together with the Pacific Oceania Cup, the CI team picked up $5,000.
The team's involvement was sanctioned by the Cook Islands International Rugby League Board.
Coach Bush said it was the second year the competition had been held and next year, teams will return to Warringah Stadium where it's expected the first prize could be about $20,000.
Bush said winning the two trophies reflected the priority the Cook Islands team accorded to becoming the undisputed Pacific champions. He was proud of the team's success and how it was out there "doing the business" for the Cook Islands. He thanked Tata Crocombe for supporting them and said he would like to have ongoing help from him. Their presence at the competition also drew many enquiries about the Cook Islands.
He also thanked Kevin Iro and the CI International Board for their efforts in promoting the development of players at the representative level.
The stand out players for the Cook Islands in the final were Zeb Taia of the Paramatta Club and Stacey Katu of the Tigers Club.
Bush said the player of the competition was Marti Mitchell of the Canterbury Bulldogs.
The Cook Islands Team: Henry Turua (Capt) Ruben Enoka, John Dean, Harry Berryman, Nathan Ford, Graeme Jeffries, Leroy Marsters, Marti Mitchell, Teariki Noovao, Apii Kora, Stacey Katu, Timothy Anitonia, Zeb Taia, Walter Dean Vaiau, Enua Glassie, Nono Natua Ngaa, Poaru Mika, Hugh Smith, John Makai, Damien Takurua.
Managers: Charlie Hoff, Jim Ford
Trainers: Brian Thomas, Brian George, Teariki Pakutoa Adams.