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The first major competition of 2024 kicks off this Friday when the 2024 Cook Islands League in Paradise Nines kicks off at the National Stadium in Nikao.

The 2024 tournament will feature men’s, women’s and under 18’s competitions, as per previous years.

Captain for the defending Men’s champions (Avatiu Nikao Eels), Maeva Robati, expressed to Cook Islands News his confidence in the Eels ability to retain the Nines title.

“We are quite confident in ourselves, you obviously got to be confident in yourself but coming out as winners I think everyone’s going to want it … it’s just the matter of who wants it more I guess,” Robati told Cook Islands News.

The Eels are coached by Clive Nicholas, who recently coached the Men’s national team to a bronze medal at the Pacific Games in the Solomon Islands.

The Eels will be joined by the Ngatangiia-Matavera Sea Eagles, Tupapa Panthers, Titikaveka Bulldogs and the Arorangi Bears in the Men’s competition.

The Women’s competition will include invitational side, the Raukawa Kukis from Tokoroa in New Zealand, as well as local teams, the Tapau Panthers, Titikaveka Bulldogs, Avatiu Nikao Eels and the Arorangi Bears.

The Nines tournament will run over two days, with the Finals to be held on Saturday.