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Back to their roots

Emoni Narawa
Thursday, June 26, 2014

GETTING back to their traditional roots is one of the major motivations for the Cook Islands rugby team, apart from making its first ever appearance in the Rugby World Cup.

The Cooks rugby 15s team is laced with players born and bred in New Zealand and Australia but have roots on the island nation.

And the pride of wearing the Cooks jersey will be at stake this weekend in a bid to create a piece of history, making its debut on the RWC competition.

For 21-year old Justin Marsters, who is chasing his first Test cap for the Cooks, beating Fiji is the mission. However, he says players have personal motivations to psych them up while preparing for the crucial encounter.

"I am born and bred in Melbourne, Australia but both my parents are from Rara," the Australian based player said.

"We have been in camp last week and before, getting players together from New Zealand. The Cooks communities are supporting us hugely, that is just part of motivation for some of the boys.

"Some are getting back to their roots just to show the boys what they're playing really for, if it's rugby basically or family side and then you have your culture side to play for so there's a lot of motivation for the boys to play for and that's good."

Marsters said he would be eyeing a spot in the starting XV and to line up against Fijian players who have played top level rugby in Europe and Super Rugby level.

The Harlequins rugby club utility back from Melbourne has represented the Cooks in the abbreviated code. He played at the recent International 7s tournament in Fiji and also played at the Hong Kong 7s tournament in March.

"There are some nerves around, you know this is going to be my first Test cap for Cook Islands and I'm looking forward to playing against Fiji."

He said Fiji would be tough to play.

"We see Fiji as a big team, big boys with a lot of speed. We're hoping to compete and to take a win from this game, we do not want to come here for nothing, we know they're a really big threat so we'll put up a good fight against them and hopefully make it to the world cup."

Fiji last played Cook Islands during the 1997 RWC qualifying match where the Flying Fijians thrashed the Cooks 53-7 at the National Stadium, Rarotonga.

This Saturday's match kicks off at 3pm at Lautoka's Churchill Park.

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