They take on an American side boosted by their surprise warm-up match victory over France.
The Cook Islands are making only their second appearance in the Rugby League World Cup, following a topsy-turvy campaign in 2000. Then, they gained just one point from their three games, following a thrilling 22-all draw with Lebanon at the Millennium Stadium.
Catalan centre Zeb Taia believes they can do much better this time, and has targeted a place in the quarter-finals.
He said: “We are coming up against the USA and Wales, who are in our pool, and we have got a cross-over game against Tonga as well so we definitely want to win all of our games. If we can win our pool we will want to make it to the quarters.”
Southampton Dragons half-back Craig Priestley gets a start at seven, while New Jersey-born Mike Garvey features at centre, alongside Hawaiian three-quarter Loto Tagaloa.
Coach Terry Matterson said: “This was a really tough selection process. With three games in eight days all of the squad will be needed with this tough schedule.
Cook Islands 19-man squad: Tinirau Arona (Syndey Roosters), Sam Brunton (Mounties Bundy), Daniel Fepuleai (North Sydney Bears), Jonathon Ford (Toulouse Olympique XIII), Anthony Gelling (Wigan Warriors), Isaac John (Penrith Panthers), Drury Low (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Keith Lulia (Bradford Bulls), Lulia Lulia (Shell Harbour), Sam Mataora (Canberra Raiders), Joseph Matapuku (North Sydney Bears), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters), Dominique Peyroux (New Zealand Warriors), Jordan Rapana (Canberra Raiders), Tupou Sopoaga (Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks), Zeb Taia (Catalan Dragons), Brad Takairangi (Gold Coast Titans), Adam Tangata (Mounties Bundy), Zane Tetavano (Newcastle Knights)
USA 19-man squad: Kristian Freed (Connecticut Wildcats), Bureta Faraimo (Mackay Cutters), Michael Garvey (Ipswich Jets), Loto Tagaloa (Hawaii Chiefs), Matt Petersen (Cudgen Hornets), Joseph Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Craig Priestly (Southampton Dragons), Junior Paulo (Parramatta Eels), Joel Luani (Wests Tigers), Eddy Pettybourne (Wests Tigers), Clint Newton (Penrith Panthers), Matt Shipway (Newcastle South), Daniel Howard (Wentworthville Magpies), Tui Samoa (Redcliffe Dolphins), Mark Offerdahl (Connecticut Wildcats), Stephen Howard (Tuggeranong Vikings), Les Soloai (Utah Avalanche), David Marando (Belrose), Judah Lavulo (Cabramatta)