Big name pros from NRL and Super League are headed to Jacksonvolle

Some big name rugby league stars are preparing for touchdown in JAX.
Big name pros from NRL and Super League are headed to Jacksonvolle

THE Cook Islands are bringing some top professional stars from Australasia’s NRL and Europe’s Super League to Jacksonville next week.

Second rower or centre Alex Glenn has captained the Brisbane Broncos and represented New Zealand and the Kukis a total of 14 times in a decorated career. Brad Taikarangi has been an NRL mainstay for the best part of a decade with Gold Coast and Parramatta, Dominique Peyroux is fresh off winning the Super League grand final at Old Trafford and centre Steven Marsters played for the Kiwis at Mile High Stadium in Denver only 16 months ago.

Also in the Cook Islands squad is British rugby league’s most larger-than-life playing character, Anthony Gelling. On the way to Warrington next year, Gelling is famous for the comedic, professionally produced mini-films starring himself that he posts on social media.

Forward Adam Tangata has played more than 100 games for British sides Halifax, Widnes and Wakefield Trinity and dynamic utility Sam Mataora played 66 games for Newcastle and Canberra between 2010 and 2017.

The Rarotonga media has, however, cottoned on to a lesser known Kuki.

Kayal Iro grew up on the island bare-foot, Kayal is the son of former Wigan and Manly legend Kevin Iro, who in turn is the brother of the current national coach Tony.

“No money, no sponsors, no flash stadiums or jerseys just your team mates – who were often cousins,” Kayal told the Cook Islands News.

“And in Raro, I got to play alongside my uncle who is also the same age. You learn that it’s family on and off the field, and I guess for us Cook Islanders, that’s how we approach the game.

“We are more than just team-mates, we are family.”

Kayal made the World Cup qualifier side after a strong performance at the World Cup Nines. He told the newspaper: “Our Cook Islands music played at training and when we received our jerseys we danced to the front to receive them because this is what bonded us together our identity and our culture.”

USA vs Cook Islands RLWC2021 Qualifiers
UNF Rugby Field | Jacksonville 5pm Sat Nov 16, 2019
Game livestreamed on Americas Rugby League Facebook:
Tickets Available at Gate $10 | Purchase Tickets Online: $10 General Admission

COOK ISLANDS (squad): Sam Mataora (Belconnen), Alex Glenn (Brisbane), Tevin Arona (Canterbury), Aaron Teroi (Central Queensland Capras) Reuben Rennie, Vincent Rennie (Mounties), Uiti Baker, Kayal Iro (Newcastle), Moses McGreal, Paul Ulberg (Norths Devils), Narata Niukore, Brad Takairangi (Parramatta), Dominic Peyroux (St Helens), Troy Dargan, Steven Marsters (South Sydney), Adam Tangata (Wakefield), Anthony Gelling (Warrington), Journe Pua, Brodie Tamarua (Warriors)