John Kears has been able to name the likes of Leigh Centurions star Caleb Aekins and scorer of amazing Wembley try Rhys Williams in his 17 to kick off Wales’ World Cup tonight.
Wales meet Cook Islands at Leigh Sports Village tonight hoping to follow in the footsteps of a truly impressive display between their Group D rivals Tonga and Papua New Guinea at the Totally Wicked Stadium last night.
The Cook Islands, after those two, are the next most likely team to make the quarter-finals which makes a win here a must and now they know the standard they will have to meet if they want to reach the quarter-finals and beyond in the tournament. Their team though shows they have the talent.
Picked by former Super League Champion and St Helens star Kevin Iro’s brother Tony, Kevin Iro’s son Kaya starts at fullback whilst former Wigan and Warrington man Anthony Gelling is named at centre.
In a surprise twist, skipper and Hull KR man Brad Takairangi misses out on the starting 13 despite seemingly set for a stand-off role so Huddersfield Giants signing Esan Marsters is forced into a positional switch as he moves from the centres into the halves to partner Featherstone’s Johnathan Ford.
Takairangi instead starts on the bench whilst former Super League winner and Saints star Dominique Peyroux starts in the back row in a pack boosted by former Kiwi and Leeds Rhinos star Zane Tetevano.