NRL recruit Brad Takairangi hopes to help Hull KR and Cook Islands rise in 2021
Once he has helped Hull KR surprise some people in Super League, Brad Takairangi is looking to do the same with Cook Islands at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup.
The Australian-born centre/back-row recently arrived in East Yorkshire having joined Rovers from Parramatta Eels.
His father is a Cook Islander, his mother hails from New Zealand and he has represented both countries on the international stage.
Takairangi played for the Cook Islands in 2013 and the Kiwis four years later but is prepped to feature with his original choice when the tournament gets underway here in the autumn.
Having seen Tonga rise to become one of the most powerful sides at the last World Cup, he feels the Cook Islands could do similar this time around.
“I’ve seen Jarome Luai wanting to make waves for Samoa and myself and (Brisbane Broncos back-row) Alex Glenn are very similar for Cook Islands,” he said.
“We’d love to get our best squad on the park and, if we do, I honestly believe we can have a bit of a momentum shift like the Tongans in the 2017 World Cup.
“2013 was the last World Cup we were in and it wasn’t very successful for us. I want to have a really good year playing club footy but it’s exciting, too, with what we could do with Cook Islands.
“We’ve people like Valentine Holmes, Joey Manu, Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, Dylan Napa and Jordan Rapana: loads are eligible.”
Takairangi, 31, has settled in well at Hull College Craven Park.
“I have really enjoyed it,” he said, as one of four recruits from the NRL with Korbin Sims, Albert Vete and, of course, England winger Ryan Hall from Sydney Roosters.
“I think we have a great mix: youth and some really hard-workers and fit blokes in the team mixed with some real power with Korbs and Albert coming in, so it’s exciting times.”
Asked who had impressed him so far, the ex-Roosters and Gold Coast Titans star - with almost 200 NRL games under his belt - said: “I really like the look of Elliot Minchella.
“Him and Deano (Dean Hadley) have been really impressive for me.”
With all his versatility, a big question is just where Takairangi will feature in Tony Smith’s side as they bid to make their mark in 2021 after finishing bottom last term.
“I’m not too sure at the moment,” he insisted, as Rovers continue their preparations ahead of next month’s Super League start.
“We’ve had a few niggles the last week and a half so I’ve been playing back-row, in the halves and centre, just trying to fit in all those three spots.
“For me, it’s mainly about getting used to how everyone plays, learning our plays and sets.
“I’m just a footy player so I can play any position for the team, wherever Tony needs me.”
Meanwhile, the Robins - who have released centre Nick Rawsthorne so he can rejoin hometown Halifax - will visit Hull FC in Super League’s Rivals Round from August 19-22 .
With the ‘traditional’ Easter derbies switched in a bid to be played with crowds, Castleford Tigers entertain Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos welcome Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors host St Helens with Salford Red Devils visiting Leigh Centurions and Catalans Dragons heading to Warrington Wolves.
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