There are hopes a well-known former Kuki will again run out in the green-and-white.
Jordan Rapana, who has re-signed with the Canberra Raiders, returned to rugby league after a short stint with Japanese rugby club Panasonic Wild Knights.
Now he is looking forward to making a comeback in the sport where he gained international fame.
Charles Carlson, president of the Cook Islands Rugby League, said Rapana’s return to league could be a major boost for the national team preparing for the 2021 World Cup.
“It will be fantastic to have him back in the squad as he has always been there for us since playing for the Cook Islands in the World Cup 2013,” Carlson said.
“Unfortunately we missed out on some crucial international test matches which saw a number of our players selected for the New Zealand Kiwis. His game gets better every year and he is one of those players that is more robust and wiser with age.”
Rapana, 30, played for the Cook Islands in the 2013 Rugby League World Cup and 2015 Asia Pacific Qualifier, earning three Test caps for the side.
He made a switch to New Zealand after getting selected in the Kiwis squad in 2016. Rapana went on to play 11 Test matches for the Kiwis.
In October last year, Rapana announced that he had signed a one-year deal to join the Panasonic Wild Knights.
Australia’s National Rugby League announced that Rapana would not be allowed to return to Canberra during the 2020 season – but that decision was overturned this month following the suspension of the Japanese rugby season due to Covid-19.
“It's awesome to be back, especially in the NRL, but to come back to the Raiders is obviously even more special,” Rapana told the media this week.
“I got back here just in time before they put everyone in those hotels that was a bonus, so I was just sitting here patiently at home waiting in Canberra, waiting to see what my future had in store.”
Rapana signed a one-year deal with the Raiders but hopes it will be extended.
“It’s hard to tell what the future holds for anyone but I think the biggest thing for me is being over there and being back in union, I probably haven’t had the strike rate in the rugby union scene but it probably just opened my eyes about how much I really enjoy rugby league and how NRL is the sport for me.
“I definitely missed it and I’m back here and Canberra’s become my home away from home and I’d like to stay here for the rest of my career.
“If I had it my way I’d definitely stay here and stay in league for sure.”
Rapana said he had returned “a little heavier from union” and is ready to take up other roles apart from his preferred wing position with the Raiders.