Brad Takairangi in Cook Islands squad to face South Africa

Eels star Brad Takairangi has been named in the Cook Islands squad to take on South Africa in a World Cup qualifier.

The Kukis face the Rhinos in a World Cup qualifier at Wentworthville’s Ringrose Park on Friday, June 21 (7pm).

Raiders full-back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad was included in Tony Iro’s original Kukis squad but he has been forced to withdraw due to a hamstring injury.

Iro commented: “This Cook Island team is a good look to the future with up to nine players set to make their international debuts in the Cook Island jersey.

“There is a good mix of players with NRL club experience and players who are performing well in the Queensland and NSW Cup competitions.

“We know that South Africa will present a tough challenge and we are looking forward to the match.”

Mitchell Frei, who made six NRL appearances for Sydney Roosters in 2016, will make his international debut for South Africa.

London Skolars star Bevan De Vries will also represent the Rhinos.

South Africa coach Jon Wilson said: “We have been building the nucleus of this side over the past 2 years and I believe we have a very strong team.

“As is evident in our matches against Malta and Italy last year, the players commitment is unrivalled, and we have a good blend of youth and experience.

“We know the Cook Islands will come out with a strong team and we will have to be on our game to foot it with them.”

Cook Islands squad: Sam Mataora (Belconnen), Eric Newbigging (Blacktown), Troy Dargan (Broncos), Reuben Porter (Raiders), Eli Noovao (CQ Capras), Aaron Teroi (CQ Capras), John Puna (Easts Tigers), Reuben Rennie (Mounties), Vincent Rennie (Mounties), Moses Noovao-Mcgreal (Norths Devils), Pride Petterson-Robati (Norths Devils), Paul Ulberg (Norths Devils), Kayal Iro (Norths Devils), Brodie Tamarua (Warriors), Tepai Moeroa (Eels), Marata Niukore (Eels), Brad Takairangi (Eels), Steven Marsters (Dragons), Josh Minhinnick (Wentworthville).

South Africa squad: Joel Tubbs (Berkley Eagles), Kamren Cryer (Blacktown Workers), Ash Bull (unattached), Jason Cutler (Carina Tigers), Louis Musson (Concord Burwood Wolves), Tomas Harris (Sharks), Damian Diedricks (Elsburg Bears), Jason King (Emerald Tigers), Erasmus Van Zyl (Fingal Bay), Bevan De Vries (London Skolars), Keegan Turner (Sea Eagles), Jackson Frei (Warriors), Brendan Frei (Norths Devils), Edward Proudler (unattached), Jean Charl Smith (unattached), Will Smith (South Perth Lions), Mitchell Frei (Souths Logan Magpies), Seth Buckley (St Clair Comets), Coby Thomas (Roosters), Jean Coetzer (unattached), Stephanus Esterhuyse (unattached), Robin Howell (unattached), Allan Kasselman (Tuks), Shane Gilliam (Tweed Head Seagulls), Byron Hutchison (unattached), Jonathan Soares (unattached), Darren O’Donovan (West Scarborough), Ayden Perry (Western Suburbs Devils).

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