Another week, another editorial – this time, it’ll be the Cook Islands team using the same criteria I’ve used for the past 2 editorials on the Island teams.
Again, just in case you’re unaware or have forgotten as to what the criteria used is:
All players selected for these teams (at least the national teams), must have played in more games for an Island nation than a main nation like Australia or New Zealand or the same amount for a respective Island nation. Alternatively, they can be eligible for an Island nation, but are yet to represent that nation at the international level. All players selected must have played in or are currently playing in the NRL, NYC, SuperLeague, other English competitions, NSW Cup. QLD Cup or a local competition at some stage, but can currently be playing in a local Australian competition.
So, now that that has been clarified, here is the Cook Islands team using the above criteria:
1. Drury Low – A talented player able to cover numerous positions across the back-line, Low had a taste of first-grade earlier this year when there were some injuries and he performed well. A mobile and athletic back, Low is actually a Melbourne junior and came through their ranks before moving to Canberra when he was younger. Now at the Dogs, Low is working hard to get a potential spot in the first-grade side long-term.
2. Dominique Peyroux – Peyroux has quite the unique blend of backgrounds, with Samoan heritage, French heritage, Cook Islands heritage and Solomon Island heritage but has predominantly played for Cook Islands, making him eligible. Originally a centre, Peyroux has been playing in the back-row a fair bit of late for the Auckland Vulcans side, anxiously waiting a first-grade opportunity at the New Zealand Warriors. A quick, speedy player, Peyroux is also a great finisher and has performed well in the past.
3. Keith Lulia – If you’re a Dragons fan or a Knights fan, you will remember one Keith Lulia – a centre/back-rower who was a handy player when called upon. Now at the Bradford Bulls, his game has improved and he’s a staple in the Bulls side with a handy rate of tries, scoring 12 in his Bulls career so far. Also no stranger to the Cook Islands, Lulia has represented them before, back in 2009.
4. Chris Taripo – He may not have seen first-grade yet but it may well be a matter of time before that happens, with the versatile Chris Taripo a handy player to have in any side. Able to cover most spots in the back-line, Taripo has added weapons as an accurate goal-kicker and is a talented, versatile player. In some solid form for Newtown, he is often a key component to the side’s wings, particularly from the centres or on the wing.
5. Anthony Gelling – Gelling has always been a talented kid and it seems like he has put his young, immature days behind him, as he battles it out for a potential centre spot at the Wigan Warriors. If you cast your mind back to 2010, you may remember that Gelling was sacked by the Roosters for defecating in a hotel room. Since then, his journey back to a top club saw him take a detour via a local NZ side, before he was recommended to Wigan. A versatile player, Gelling has a big frame and uses it well, to go with his agility and mobile nature for a big man.
6. Jonathan Ford – He may not have played a lot of first-grade games, so your memory is probably a bit hazy on him, but think back to 2010 and 2011 and you may remember his name. Able to cover fullback, centre, five-eighth and halfback, Ford is a crafty fullback, currently plying his trade in France with Toulouse where he is performing well.
7. Issac John – You only have to see his most recent game to see just how talented Issac John is, after a fantastic three-try effort saw him guide the Panthers to a victory. Quick, nimble and very, very creative as a half, John finally has what looks like a potential long-term opportunity to succeed and knuckle down a permanent first-grade position. As a halfback, he brings a lot to the table in terms of game awareness and great ability.
8. Tinirau Arona – He may have fallen slightly out of favour of late at the Roosters but don’t let that fool you into believing that Arona isn’t a talented player. A barnstorming, bullocking front-rower, Arona hits the line hard and at speed and has the rep experience for the Cook Islands behind him, winning the 2011 Cook Islands Player of the Year. With the potential to succeed further and opportunity in the NRL vast, Arona may potentially seek a new challenge, one that a lot of teams would be willing to accept.
9. Sam Brunton – Another young player who has put a troubled past behind him, Brunton is as solid as a rock in defence, evidenced by his ability to hold down in the middle at lock. Primarily a hooker, though, Brunton was a part of some talented Roosters sides in the juniors and was a key reason as to why those teams were successful. Currently at Newtown, Brunton is working hard to ensure he can get a first-grade opportunity, even if that won’t be an easy task.
10. Zane Tetevano – A versatile forward, Tetevano may not be in the Newcastle Knights side right now, but he does offer fantastic depth for the club when called upon. Often a bruiser-type player in attack and defence, Tetevano is a player that whilst not a superstar, knows what his role is and he goes out there and does it.
11. Sam Mataora – A young player that has come through the Raiders ranks at NYC level and now playing in the NSW Cup, Mataora is a behemoth of a kid. Just 22, he’s shown that he has the ability to overpower opposition defenders and hits the line with speed. A handy forward in that he can cover numerous spots across the forward pack, Mataora’s versatility helped him become a part of the Raiders side last year. Whilst biding his time in the NSW Cup, you’d imagine that his next opportunity is not too far away.
12. Brad Takairangi – A solid utility player and a very able one at that, playing well no matter the position he’s in, Takairangi is, in my view, a tremendously under-rated player. His work ethic, approach to the game, skill with the ball in hand and his passion are just some of the traits that make him a handy player. Currently in the centres for the Gold Coast Titans, Takairangi is a fantastic young talent and will only get better.
13. Zeb Taia (C) – A veteran of rugby league, particularly in the NRL. Taia, no matter where he went, was loved by fans and players alike for his infectious nature but also for the way he played the game. A fair player and good sport when required, Taia gave as good as he got, never shying away from a battle and giving it his all for the Parramatta Eels and Newcastle Knights. Now at Catalans in the Super League, Taia epitomises what a team player should be.
14. Neccrom Areaiiti – Still young and having been associated with three clubs, Areaiiti is still trying to crack the first-grade side permanently, this time at Penrith. The young forward is a strong, mobile player who is more than happy to work tirelessly through the middle of the field. With age on his side and a keenness to play the game, it might only be a matter of time before we see him in first-grade.
15. Aaron Nootai – A versatile player to have come off the bench, Nootai can cover most back-line spots as well as hooker. Not a household name, Nootai is a tireless worker and a player that will give it his all every game. Currently plying his trade at the Auckland Vulcans.
16. Nathaniel Peteru – A New Zealand Warrior through and through, young and exciting talent Nathaniel Peteru has a big future ahead of him. Currently at the Vulcans, his quickness, spark and in-game awareness are what make him a handy player, as well as the ability to run around all day. In time, he might be a potential smokey for first-grade.
17. Dylan Napa – When you think of future prop forwards, Napa fits that mold. Hands down. One of the best young prospects in the front-row at the Roosters to come through the ranks, Napa will one day be a star. He may not have played first-grade yet but he has come close, being named 18th man a few times. His time will come and when it does, opposition teams had better be weary of this talented kid.