31 Oct 2022
What are the teams for Australia v Cook Islands women at the Rugby League World Cup?
All the squad details ahead of a rematch of the 2017 opener between Australia and Cook Islands
By Alec McQuarrie
The reigning champions are back and will hope to get their title-defence off and running in the same fashion as in 2017.
The Jillaroos defeated the Moana 58-4 in their opening game in Pool A five years ago and the two meet on Wednesday evening at York Community Stadium.
Tarryn Aiken, captain Ali Brigginshaw and Isabelle Kelly are all named in Australia's squad, with 10 potential debutants including Aiken, Shannon Mato and Lauren Brown.
There's a lot of buzz around Aiken who is an up-and-coming star in the NRLW with Brisbane Broncos, while half-back partner Brigginshaw and flying centre Kelly both scored tries against Cook Islands in 2017.
For the Moana, 21-year-old Mackenzie Wiki will feature and looking on proudly will be her father Ruben who many will know as the New Zealand men's legend.
Also included is half-back Chantay Kiria-Ratu who, even at the tender age of 18, is looking to make a big impact on the biggest stage.
12 Tarryn Aiken, 1 Kezie Apps, 13 Shaylee Bent, 2 Samantha Bremner, 3 Ali Brigginshaw, 14 Lauren Brown, 16 Kennedy Cherrington, 17 Shenae Ciesiolka, 18 Yasmin Clydsdale, 19 Taliah Fuimaono, 20 Caitlan Johnston, 5 Isabelle Kelly, 22 Olivia Kernick, 23 Shannon Mato, 24 Evania Pelite, 10 Julia Robinson, 4 Simaima Taufa, 6 Emma Tonegato, 9 Holli Wheeler
6 Kimiora Breayley-Nati, 20 Mireka Dean, 9 Tetuanui Dean, 7 Chantay Kiria-Ratu, 17 Lavinia Kitai, 2 Beniamina Koitau, 23 Terehia Matua, 15 Toka Natua, 10 April Ngatupuna, 4 Daimzel Rongokea, 21 Anekka Stephens, 5 Kiana Takairangi, 8 Karol-Ann Tanevesi, 19 Tehinnah-Leal Tatuava, 12 Alekermay Tuaana, 18 Charlize Tumu-Makara, 14 Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, 1 Mackenzie Wiki
The opening day match up in 2017 was the first and only time the pair have gone up against each other in the women's Rugby League World Cup, with Australia winning 58-4.
Elianna Walton is not included in the matchday squad, and the New Zealand-born prop misses the chance to face the side she used to represent, having won two World Cups with the Jillaroos in 2013 and 2017.
She's following her younger sisters' footsteps in running out for the Cook Islands, as both Stephanie and Eliza played a part in Cook Islands' exit in the group stages five years ago.
Australia followed up their first Rugby League World Cup title in 2013 with their second four years later.
They defeated trans-Tasman rivals New Zealand on both occasions, the most recent a 23-16 victory in Brisbane, having lost out to the Kiwi Ferns in the final in 2008.
Cook Islands record
This will be the third tournament at which the Cook Islands have competed.
The Cook Islands will be looking to log back-to-back wins at the women’s Rugby League World Cup for the first time after finishing their 2017 campaign with a 22-16 win over England.
Players to watch
- Sydney Roosters' centre Isabelle Kelly has the most Rugby League World Cup tries of any current Australian player, having crossed six times in her debut tournament in 2017, while she also made a whopping 657 run metres - more than any of her teammates.
- Australia's scrum-half Ali Brigginshaw made the most try assists of any player in the last Rugby League World Cup and also kicked further than anyone with a total of 613.
- Toka Natua of the Cook Islands is a powerful runner, having made an impressive 155 metres post contact in 2017.
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets