4 Nov 2022
What are the teams for New Zealand v Cook Islands women at the Rugby League World Cup?
The Moana will hope to bounce back after defeat to Australia in the opening round
By Milly McEvoy
Mele Hufanga will make her New Zealand debut when she lines up on the wing for the Kiwi Ferns in their second-round clash against Cook Islands on Sunday.
The 28-year-old has swapped union for league having represented Tonga at the Oceania Rugby Union Women’s Championship earlier this year.
Laishon Albert-Jones also comes into the 17 and will partner Dally M winner Raecene McGregor in the halves.
Co-captain Elianna Walton returns to the Cook Islands’ squad in one of five changes to Rusty Matua’s side.
Kennedy Harrison-Vahua and Maleyna Hunapo are also named in the squad as the Moana look to score their first-ever points against New Zealand.
1 Apii Nicholls, 24 Mele Hufanga, 21 Shanice Parker, 4 Page McGregor, 5 Madison Bartlett, 6 Laishon Albert-Jones, 7 Raecene McGregor, 8 Mya Hill-Moana, 9 Krystal Rota, 10 Annetta Claudia-Nu’uausala, 18 Otesa Pule, 12 Amber-Paris Hall, 16 Charlotte Scanlan; 14 Nita Maynard, 23 Brianna Clark, 20 Crystal Tamarua, 17 Christyl Stowers; 19 Hailee-Jay Ormond-Maunsell; 22 Karli Hansen
6 Kimiora Breayley-Nati, 20 Mireka Dean, 9 Tetuanui Dean, 12 Kennedy Harrison-Vahua, 22 Maleyna Hunapo, 17 Lavinia Kitai, 23 Terehia Matua, 3 Karaitiania Matua, 11 Moniqca Mo’ale, 10 Aprilngatupuna, 4 Daimzel Rongokea, 21 Anekka Stephens, 8 Karol-Ann Tanevesi, 19 Tehinnah-Leal Tatuava, 16 Alekermay Tuaana, 18. Charlize Tumu-Makara, 14 Jazmon Tupou-Witchman, 13 Elianna Walton, 1 Mackenzie Wiki
New Zealand and Cook Islands have squared off twice previously, with the Kiwi Ferns emerging on top both times.
The Moana are yet to score a point against New Zealand having lost 68-0 in 2003 and 76-0 in 2017.
Kiwi Ferns captain Krystal Rota will come up against nieces Karaitiana and Terehia Matua who represent the Cook Islands.
New Zealand record
New Zealand have never lost a group stage game, only losing in the past two World Cup finals, and are on a three-match winning streak stretching back to 2020.
Cook Islands record
Cook Islands played their first game since the 2017 World Cup when they took on holders Australia in the first round of this tournament, losing 74-0.
Players to watch:
- Raecene McGregor made four try assists in the opening round, the most of any player; she also crossed for two tries in the space of just four minutes in her last international against the Cook Islands in 2017.
- April Ngatupuna made five offloads in the Cook Islands’ game against Australia, the most of any player at the tournament.
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