17 Oct 2022
What are the teams for Wales v Cook Islands men at the Rugby League World Cup?
Check out the line-ups for the clash between Wales and the Cook Islands
By Paul Eddison
Wales and the Cook Islands will face off in Leigh in a match that already looks like a must-win in Group D.
With 2017 semi-finalists Tonga and Papua New Guinea also in the group, both sides will know that a win is vital if they are to have a realistic shot of making the quarter-finals.
While Wales’ recent record in the tournament has not been good – their last success came back in 2000, they have some experienced campaigners to guide a relatively youthful squad.
They will be captained by Elliot Kear, with record try-scorer Rhys Williams also a key man, although this campaign should serve as a foundation for the future.
The Kuki’s are back on this stage after booking their place with victories in the repechage against South Africa and the USA. And even without Dylan Napa for the opener, they are not lacking in talent, notably Huddersfield-bound Esan Marsters and Super League veteran Anthony Gelling.
Cook Islands: 14 Tevin Arona, 7 Johnathon Ford, 3 Anthony Gelling, 1 Kayal Iro, 8 Makahesi Makatoa, 5 Steven Marsters, 4 Esan Marsters, 20 Davvy Moale, 10 Tepai Moeroa, 17 Rua Ngatikaura, 19 Pride Petterson-Robati, 11 Dominique Peyroux, 12 Brendan Piakura, 23 Reuben Porter, 16 Reubenn Rennie, 6 Brad Takairanga (captain), 9 Aaron Teroi, 13 Zane Tetevano, 2 Paul Ulberg
Wales: 1 Caleb Aekins, 2 Rhys Williams, 4 Will Evans, 5 Dalton Grant, 6 Elliot Kear (captain), 7 Josh Ralph, 8 Anthony Walker, 9 Matty Fozard, 10 Dan Fleming, 11 Rhodri Lloyd, 12 Chester Butler, 13 Ben Evans, 14 Ollie Olds, 15 Curtis Davies, 16 Joe Burke, 17 Bailey Antrobus, 18 Connor Davies, 19 Mike Butt, 21 Tom Hopkins
The teams have met twice before, both times at the World Cup. Their first meeting came back in 2000 when Wales ran out 38-6 victors, but the Cook Islands got some revenge in 2013 with a 28-24 victory in Neath, to date, their only World Cup success.
The Wales squad features two different sets of twins, with Ben and Rhys Evans returning after both appearing in 2013, while Connor and Curtis Davies have also made the cut. There is a third set of brothers in the squad, Ollie and James Olds.
Cook Islands record
The Cook Islands have won one match out of six at the Rugby League World Cup, with that sole success coming against Wales in 2013. They did also draw against Lebanon back in 2000.
Wales have lost seven consecutive matches at the Rugby League World Cup, with their last success coming back in 2000 against Papua New Guinea. They have won two and lost two since the last World Cup however, beating Ireland and Scotland, with both defeats coming against France.
Players to watch
- Wales fullback Caleb Aekins is one of just two uncapped players in the squad, but has NRL experience with the Penrith Panthers and Canberra Raiders and recently helped Leigh Centurions to promotion to Super League. He should feel right at home in this opening encounter.
- Experienced campaigner Dominique Peyroux will have fond memories of playing Wales, having scored in the Cook Islands’ win over the Welsh in 2013. A two-time Super League winner with St Helens, he spent last year playing in France for Toulouse.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets