1 Nov 2022
Breayley-Nati: Chance to represent Cook Islands too good to turn down
The former Kiwi Fern wants to help the next generation through
By Milly McEvoy
Cook Islands co-captain Kimiora Breayley-Nati is looking to her past and her country’s future as she embarks on her final World Cup.
Breayley-Nati, winner of the inaugural Karyn Murphy medal awarded to the NRLW Grand Final's best player, will come up against her former side New Zealand after the Cook Islands open their World Cup against holders Australia in York on Wednesday.
The 34-year-old could not pass up a final opportunity to represent her family’s heritage at the back end of her career and is hopeful a strong showing from her side will put them in good stead for years to come.
“In the last World Cup, I played for the Kiwi Ferns,” Breayley-Nati said. “But I'm on the verge of retirement, so I decided to play for my culture, my people and all the family back at home.
“It's indescribable putting on the Cook Island jersey, I've never done it before but to represent my family, I'm just excited.
“They said that I made the right choice! I'm on the verge of retirement and hopefully I can bring all the up-and-coming talent through.
“There's so much potential out there that we just don't have the resources to go out and look at them properly.
“Financially, we're not stable enough as well, hopefully that changes. I'm ready to take that step forward, and hopefully get whatever we can on the board for the next World Cup.
“All these ladies want to represent their country because we're losing them to other countries and hopefully at the next World Cup it will be different.”
The Cook Islands are not daunted by taking on the two teams that have won all five editions of the tournament.
Former Kiwi Ferns head coach Anthony Matua is now at the helm of the Cook Islands and is instructing his team to build through their tricky group, which finishes with their game against France, and relish being the outsiders to progress.
He said: “We could look at it from two perspectives, we could be either lambs to the slaughter, or we can feel that it's an absolute blessing to be put on the world stage and the pinnacle of rugby league up against the best team in the world.
“And we choose to see it as a blessing and to be optimistic. We believe that being the underdog is really cool in the situation that all the pressure is on Australia to win and to win well, and for us, we feel no pressure.
“But in saying that, we're really focused on doing the basics the best, being consistent. Rugby league is a simple game and we want to try and put our best foot forward on the world stage and play quality football and be consistent with it.
“It would be absolutely amazing if we beat Australia, but it's highly unlikely. We're hoping that we can improve enough and learn enough from playing Australia to try and upset the Kiwis.
“My experience with the Kiwis gives me a bit of an insight because I know all the girls and the coach and they know me as well.
“They they'll be very wary and we are hoping to cause an upset in game two.”
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