Cook Islands star urges more players to switch nations and grow women’s game

COOK ISLANDS co-captain Kimiora Breayley-Nati believes that if more people follow her lead and switch to a lower tier nations for international honours, the game will grow even more than it has in recent years.

Breayley-Nati is one of several members of the Kuki’s squad this year that has previously represented the Kiwi Ferns, but she has chosen to proudly represent her heritage this time around.

It is a practice that is becoming more common within the men’s game, and the halfback, who led her team out for their opening game against Australia, has said that the more it happens, the better it could be for the game across the board.

“I played for the Ferns in the last World Cup, but I am on the verge of retirement so I decided to play for my culture and my people this year,” said Breayley-Nati, who plays club rugby for the Gold Coast Titans in the NRLW.

“I have never pulled on the Cook Islands jersey before, but to do it now is indescribable.

“I’m just excited to be part of this squad and hopefully I can help bring some of the up-and-coming talent through. There is so much potential out there in the Cook Islands, but we just don’t have the resources to go round and look at it all properly to get them to jump on board.

“Financially we’re not stable enough either, but hopefully that changes soon and I am ready to take that step forward and get whatever we can on board for all those players out there that want to represent their country.

“We’re losing players to other nations like the Ferns, but hopefully we can turn that around. We want these girls to play for the Cook Islands.

“Players switching to Tier Two nations in the men’s competition is making that a massive thing and making a big deal of the fact that they are dropping down to these nations.

“We’re just as good as these top-tier nations, we just don’t have the resources to match and that’s what’s lacking.

“We’re still trying to build ourselves up as a nation and hopefully by some leading men’s players doing that, everyone else will jump on board as well as some women.”