2021 Rugby League World Cup

A place for the quarter-finals is up for grabs in the all-Pacific showdown between Papua New Guinea and the Cook Islands in Warrington.

The Kumuls were unlucky not to come away with a draw against Tonga in their tournament opener, and need to beat the Kukis to have any chance to progress.

But the Cook Islands know they can secure a place of their own in the knockout stages by besting PNG, even with Tonga left to come, after they knocked off Wales in Leigh.

Papua New Guinea will have to do it without Xavier Coates and Edene Gebbie, as both have been ruled out of the World Cup with injuries.

The Kumuls will again rely on their electric hooker Edwin Ipape, and craft playmaker Lachlan Lam.

The two Leigh Centurions players were in great touch against Tonga.

With hard-hitting Justin Olam and Alex Johnston in the backline, this is a side with serious firepower.

They also boast skipper Rhyse Martin, who is in electric, record-breaking form as a goalkicker.

The Cook Islands will be without Steven Marsters, who injured himself in the win over Wales.

However, they still have a talented squad to draw from, including his brother Esan, Anthony Gelling, Brad Takairangi and Zane Tetevano.

The Cooks have a squad filled with NRL and Super League-experienced players.

Both of these countries have rugby league as their national sport, so this clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium is bound to set pulses racing.

The Kumuls and the Kukis have played five times in the past, with Papua New Guinea winning all five matches.

They last met in 2017, in a mid-season international, where the result went 32-22 to PNG.

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John Davidson
John is a freelance journalist who has been writing about rugby league for the past decade. He covered the 2013 and 2017 World Cups, has appeared on TV and radio, and been published in The I-Paper, The Guardian, The Sun, The Mirror, League Express, Inside Sport magazine and Big League. He writes regularly for Forty-20 magazine, League Weekly and co-hosts the podcasts By the Balls and Six To Go.