Everything you need to know – Wales v Cook Islands
Wales head into this World Cup with 12 of their 24-man squad being Welsh-born as the nation look to continue strengthening their development pathways.
John Kear’s side is made up of Championship and League 1 talent. Wingers Rhys Williams (Salford) and Kyle Evans (Wakefield) are the only Super League players selected.
As for the Cook Islands, they’ve managed to name a pretty strong despite having a population of only 12,000.
The Kukis have a number of players currently plying their trade in the northern hemisphere – Paul Ulberg (London Broncos), Esan Marsters (Huddersfield), Brad Takairangi (Hull KR), Johnathon Ford (Featherstone), Dom Peyroux (Toulouse) and Zane Tetevano (Leeds).
Here’s everything you need to know about the match…
- Wales v Cook Islands
- Date: Wednesday, October 19
- Kick-off time: 7:30pm
- Venue: Leigh Sports Village, Leigh
- Group D
Wales v Cook Islands team news
Wales 19-man squad: 1 Caleb Aekins, 2 Rhys Williams, 4 Will Evans, 5 Dalton Grant, 6 Elliot Kear, 7 Josh Ralph, 8 Ant Walker, 9 Matty Fozard, 10 Dan Fleming, 11 Rhodri Lloyd, 12 Chester Butler, 13 Ben Evans, 14 Ollie Olds, 15 Curtis Davies, 16 Joe Burke, 17 Bailey Antrobus, 18 Connor Davies, 19 Mike Butt, 21 Tom Hopkins.
Cook Islands 19-man squad: 1 Kayal Iro, 2 Paul Ulberg, 3 Anthony Gelling, 4 Esan Marsters, 5 Steven Marsters, 6 Brad Takairangi, 7 Johnathon Ford, 8 Makahesi Makatoa, 9 Aaron Teroi, 10 Tepai Moeroa, 11 Dom Peyroux, 12 Brendan Piakura, 13 Zane Tetevano, 14 Tevin Arona, 16 Reubenn Rennie, 17 Pride Petterson-Robati, 20 Davvy Moale, 23 Reuben Porter.
What the two camps are saying
Wales coach John Kear said: “An incremental goal for us would be to win a game. We didn’t get out the group stages in 2013 and 2017, we didn’t even qualify in 2008, so if we pick up a win, then you never know what happens to a player’s confidence and belief.”
Cook Islands coach Tony Iro said: “I think we have the squad to do it (reach quarter-finals). There’s a lot of build up to our first game which is going to help us. We’ve got enough players in our squad playing NRL and Super League that if we play well enough, we’ll cause some trouble for all three teams.”
How can I watch the game on TV?
BBC Two, 7:30pm | BBC iPlayer
Every game across the men’s, women’s and wheelchair World Cup tournaments is being broadcast by the BBC.
The match will also be available to view on the BBC iPlayer, the BBC Sport website and the BBC Sport mobile app.
Odds and predictions
The Cook Islands are heavy favourites going into the game according to Planet Sport Bet, who have them priced at 1/7 to beat Wales.
If you fancy an outside bet, Wales are 5/1 to come out on top in Leigh.
I think the Cook Islands are just too strong for Wales. They’ve got a much bigger pack which the Welsh will struggle to deal with. I reckon the Cook Islands will win by at least 20 points.