The Cook Islands squad:
Kevin Iro (captain)
|Group 2 news
The winners of the Emerging Nations tournament in 1995 will need to take a massive step up if they are to trouble any of the major League playing nations and reach the quarter-finals stage. In St Helens' powerful centre Kevin Iro, the scorer of 22 Superleague tries this season, the Islanders possess a most experienced captain. Newcastle Knights' prop Jason Temu is another who has battled up front with the best. But, apart from Auckland Warriors' Peter Lewis and Meti Noovao, now with the Burleigh Bears in Australia, they lack players of first-grade experience.
Always eager to entertain the crowds with exciting running and slick handling, the Cook Islands' coach Stan Martin could find that he lacks sufficient experience and size in the forwards to threaten Wales and New Zealand, the likely quarter-final qualifiers from the group.
Coach Martin will sorely miss the services of his skipper's brother Tony Iro, who prefers not to come out of retirement for the World Cup.
If they can reproduce the form which earned them a 22-6 win over Ireland in the 1995 Emerging Nations final, the Cook Islands will find favour with the crowd. Their main hope would surely be to prove competitive through the group matches and enable any home-based players to gain experience on the international stage.