Rugby League World Cup: Wales v Cook Islands preview
Last Updated: 10/11/13 2:46pm
Wales coach Iestyn Harris hopes to end a disappointing World Cup campaign on a high against the Cook Islands in Neath on Sunday.
The Welsh were strongly fancied to win their group and make it to the quarter-finals but they have suffered defeats by the USA Tomahawks and Italy to undermine much of the good work from the last five years.
Although Sunday's match is now a 'dead rubber' Harris is determined to at least get a victory on the board before their participation in the tournament comes to an end.
"We've trained well this week and, although we can't now make the quarter-finals of the World Cup, we want to go out on a win," Harris said.
"We're pleased that we've managed to play games at the homes of both North Wales Crusaders and now South Wales Scorpions and we know that the crowds for these games will be about 10 times their normal attendances.
"So if anything, a good performance this Sunday from us will hopefully bring new fans into the Scorpions next season. That can only be good for the game in Wales."
But they come up against an opponent feeling they can make history with a first World Cup win, something that is inspiring their squad according to coach David Farleigh.
"I was pleased with the way the boys performed against Tonga, even though we didn't get the result we wanted," Fairleigh said, referring to their 22-16 defeat in midweek.
"We were a little bit below par against the USA but we improved a lot against Tonga and , if we continue to improve, we'll get that win we all want.
"Getting the Cook Islands' first ever World Cup win is a big thing for all of us, and that's what the boys have been focusing on all week."
Sunday's match will bring the curtain down on the Welsh international careers of Salford prop Jordan James and former London Broncos hooker Neil Budworth.
James will bring his international career to a close with a record-equalling 30th appearance, enabling him to draw level with Ian Watson.
Dan Fleming (Castleford), Rob Massam (North Wales) and the previously injured Danny Jones (Keighley) are all named for the first time in the tournament and Wigan centre or second rower Rhodri Lloyd is recalled after sitting out last Sunday's defeat.
The Cook Islands will be without full-back Drury Low, who flew back to Australia on Thursday after his partner gave birth to their daughter. Lulia Lulia looks set to deputise and Wigan centre Anthony Gelling is poised to return.
Wales squad: Neil Budworth, Ross Divorty, Gil Dudson, Ben Evans, Rhys Evans, Daniel Fleming, Ben Flower, Tyson Frizell, Jordan James, Danny Jones, Elliot Kear, Craig Kopczak, Rhodri Lloyd, Peter Lupton, Rob Massam, Larne Patrick, Christiaan Roets, Anthony Walker, Lloyd White
Cook Islands squad: Tinirau Arona, Sam Brunton, Daniel Fepuleai, Jonathon Ford, Anthony Gelling, Isaac John, Keith Lulia, Lulia Lulia, Sam Mataora, Joseph Matapuku, Dylan Napa, Dominique Peyroux, Rea Pittman, Jordan Rapana, Tupou Sopoaga, Zeb Taia, Brad Takairangi, Adam Tangata, Chris Taripo
2013 Rugby League World Cup
This years' Rugby League World Cup has been hailed as the greatest of all time by the organisers. Australia claimed their 10th title by beating New Zealand in the final in front of a record attendance.
RFL chief executive Nigel Wood is confident the sport will capitalise on the success of hosting the World Cup.
We take a look back at the highs and occasional low from probably the best World Cup to date.
- Hetherington wants more cups
- Wallace commits to Scotland
- Widdop left gutted by defeat
- Tomkins devastated by defeat
- Burgess defends brother George
- Johnson expresses relief
- Kangaroos leap into final
- Sheens tribute to Civoniceva
- Australia v Fiji: Teams
- Burgess out to deny Williams
- Aussies wary of physical Fiji
- Foran highlights main threats
- Two video refs for World Cup
- Civoniceva gets Wembley buzz
- Fiji too strong for Samoa
- England disappoint McNamara
- England stroll into semis
- Sheens retains Slater hope
- Australia put USA to the sword
- Samoa v Fiji: Teams
- Williams injury played down
- Kiwis stroll into semis
- Sheens: Slater has learned
- Brough set for toughest test
- Scots ready for biggest task
- Kiwis wary of Henderson
- Farah dropped for US clash