Leeds’ new recruit Zane Tetevano is aiming for a place in the Cook Islands squad for the World Cup this autumn.
The 30-year-old made his international debut for the Cook Islands in 2009 and represented the nation in the 2013 World Cup but played for New Zealand – his birth country – in 2019.
Tetevano was raised by his Cook Islander grandparents and he has revealed that he would like to represent his ancestral homeland again this year.
He said: “I just want to do my best for the club and I will leave that until the end of the year but, if I was to pick a team, it would probably be the Cook Islands.
“Going back to 2013, we didn’t do too well but as a squad, I think we’ve all grown up and matured and if we had that same team, then I think we’d do pretty well. First and foremost I want to do well for the club and leave that stuff until the end of the year.”
Tetevano has joined a Cook Islands WhatsApp group that includes Hull KR’s new signing Brad Takairangi and Brisbane Broncos captain Alex Glenn.
The prop, who has joined the Rhinos on a three-year contract from Penrith Panthers, feels the Cook Islands can draw some inspiration from what fellow Pacific nation Tonga has done in recent years.
He added: “With the guys that have been thrown in there, I feel like we can do a job at the end of the year.
“My grandparents are from Mangaia. My nan and grandad are Cook Islanders and I was raised on my Cook Islands side which is my dad’s side.
“All the Pacific nations like Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Papua New Guinea – they are all capable to be of that level with Tonga.
“I remember watching the Tonga game against Australia which was amazing for all the Pacific nations.
“I don’t know how it is going to go at the end of the year but I’m just glad to be here and be part of the Rhinos.”