The World Cup Nines will provide the Cook Islands team with a perfect build-up for the do-or-die Rugby League World Cup qualifying match against USA.
The national team crushed South Africa 66-6 in the opening qualifier and will need to beat USA in Florida next month to book its place in the World Cup 2021.
The two-day Nines tournament which kicks off on Thursday next week in Sydney will see the Kukis battle against Samoa, Fiji and Tonga in the pool competition for a place in the knockouts.
Cook Islands Rugby League president Charles Carlson said the Nines tournament provided young players coming through the ranks and on the verge of making their debut in the NRL, an opportunity to prove themselves.
“Cook Islands is hardly mentioned in any of the Nines promotion because we haven’t been in the limelight for a couple of years. The game against South Africa winning 66-6 was a good comeback into the international scene and the World Cup Nines will be a very good indicator of where we are at this level,” Carlson said.
The national team will be captained by NRL veteran Alex Glenn. He will be supported by professional league players Anthony Gelling, Brad Takairangi, Steven Marsters and Tepai Moeroa.
Cook Islands will take on Tonga in its opening pool match on Thursday before playing Samoa and Fiji on Friday.
Cook Islands World Cup Nines squad: Tevin Arona (Canterbury Bulls), Anthony Gelling (Warrington Wolves), Alex Glenn (Brisbane Broncos), Kayal Iro (Norths Devils), Steven Marsters (St George Illawarra Dragons), Sam Mataora (Belconnen), Tepai Moeroa (Parramatta Eels), Moses Noovao-McGreal (Norths Devils), Junior Pua (New Zealand Warriors), John Puna (Easts Tigers), Reubenn Rennie (Mounties), Vincent Rennie (Mounties), Brad Takairangi (Parramatta Eels), Brodie Tamarua (New Zealand Warriors), Aaron Teroi (Central Queensland Capras), Paul Ulberg (Norths Devils).