Why Featherstone Rovers star was left out of must win World Cup clash as illness in camp

When the teams for last night’s Rugby League World Cup clash between Papua New Guinea and Cook Islands were revealed, the halfbacks of the Cook Islands were always going to be a talking point.

Last week Huddersfield Giants bound centre Esan Marsters started out of position in the halves alongside Man of the Match Johnathon Ford. However, the Cook Islanders looked much better when Hull KR’s departing star Brad Takairangi came onto the field in the halves.

It wasn’t a surprise to see him start last night then, but it was a surprise to see no Johnathon Ford in the team at all with the Featherstone Rovers halfback absent.

However, after the game his coach Tony Iro revealed why as he revealed the camp itself has been struck by illness: “He woke up with the flu, we’ve had a bit of it in the camp.”

In terms of what his halves will look like next week, Iro didn’t know just yet with it being too early to tell on Ford as well as there being some bumps and bruises and of course Marster may be needed at centre with Anthony Gelling confirmed as going home last night for personal reasons.

Iro summed it up himself:

“It’s pretty early, we’ve got some bumps and bruises and three or four blokes who haven’t had a run yet so they’ll come into consideration and bring some fresh energy to the team.”

It’s all or nothing for Cook Islands in their last game. If they were to stun Tonga, they could still make the quarter-finals.

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