The national side will field a men’s and a women’s team in the regional event held every four years.
And one of the criteria to get into the women’s squad is to play in the upcoming Cook Islands Rugby League Nines tournament.
The annual Nines meet which will be held on January 4 and 5 for the first time is expected to feature women’s competition.
Cook Islands Rugby League acting competition co-ordinator Tai Nelio said they were encouraging clubs to put a women’s team together with the men’s side in the tournament.
“It was encouraging when Charles Carlson (CIRL president) emailed that both the men and the women’s Nines team is confirmed to participate in the Pacific Games in Samoa in July 2019,” Nelio said.
“It’s only seven months apart and that’s not long to go and it’s important to get into the necessary preparations now.
“It will be good to get a women’s Nines team play in the Nines tournament as part of the preparation otherwise we will have to look overseas for the players. One of the criteria is they have to be playing in the CIRL 2019 Nines tournament to get into the squad.”
Nelio said they were in the process of appointing a women’s Nines coach and manager to start registering the squad, planning and training programmes.
Meanwhile registration for the upcoming tournament closed on Monday last week. Participating teams have until December 28 to submit their team declaration forms.
Apart from the seven Cook Islands-based teams (six from Rarotonga and one from Aitutaki), Queensland Kukis and Auckland Kukis teams are expected to compete.
Clubs are allowed to register 20 players in the teams with four officials. The competition rule that each team or club must have a maximum of four non-Cook Islanders still applied.
However one minor rule change the CIRL executives have made is that “all club players are a free agent in this Nines competition unless the player is contracted to another club”.
The Cook Islands Nines was established in January, 2016 for the purpose of assisting the clubs in their pre-season preparation before the proper season starts in February.
The tournament was also established to help with the development of the Nines game in the Cook Islands as part of their on-going preparation for future events such as the Pacific Games and other Nines competition in the region and internationally.