The Cooks return to the world of league

The Cook Islands rugby league team is counting down until their return to the international arena.

The Kukis haven't played a match since the 2013 World Cup, having been overlooked for the first three years of the Pacific Test programme.

They face Tonga later this month in a winner-takes-all qualifier for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

This Saturday's match-up against Niue is a chance to test players and combinations but coach Alex Chan says it's just nice to finally put a Cook Islands team back on the park.

"It just gives a lot of pride to the people to to know that their football team is still there, you know, because we don't like hearing the teams that they're there one minute and they get faded out and then they've got to try and kick-start it back up again and try and encourage everyone to get back on board. With the available players we've got in the NRL at the moment it's exciting the fact that there's a massive future ahead of the Cook Islands. We just really want to capture that and just keep pushing forward and it's great to have another hit-out this weekend before the World Cup qualifier".