Leeds prop Zane Tetevano said he was delighted to honour his late grandparents by representing the Cook Islands again.
The 30-year-old made his international debut for the Kukis in 2009 and played his first World Cup in 2013.
Tetevano was born and raised in New Zealand, but is of Cook Islander heritage through his father’s side of the family.
The Leeds forward represented birth nation New Zealand in 2019 before switching his allegiance back to the Cook Islands for this World Cup, honouring his grandparents, who passed away last year.
And on Wednesday, Tetevano made his Cook Islands return as he helped Tony Iro’s side edge past Wales 18-12 in their first game of the World Cup in Leigh.
“Unfortunately, my grandparents aren’t around to see this,” Tetevano told Love Rugby League. “They only passed away last year.
“It’s something that brought back a few tears to know they would have been happy with that.
“I was brought up by grandparents and they are all Cook Islanders. It’s always good to go back to your roots.
“It’s been good going back to our roots and culture and the singing and our Haka. We’ve been finding out a bit of stuff like where we are from in the background, so it’s been nice. It feels like home again, so it’s been pretty good.”
Zane Tetevano previews Papua New Guinea clash
Next up for the Cook Islands is a match against Papua New Guinea in Warrington on Tuesday, October 25. A win for the Kukis would seal them a place in the quarter-finals.
“PNG are a great side,” Tetevano said. “They defend well, they compete well.
“Unfortunately for them, they lost in the last minute against Tonga but I think they’ll be hungry for more and we’ve got to expect that.
“It’s going to be fun, it’s going to be tough. We’ve got a five-day turnaround so we’ll get recovered and get our game plans right.
“It’s going to be quite competitive over the next two weeks.”