World Cup qualifier: USA coach concedes Cook Islands’ NRL experience will be tough to beat



USA Hawks head coach Sean Rutgerson has conceded his side face an uphill battle in their clash this weekend against the Cook Islands in Jacksonville, Florida.

The winner will lock in the final spot for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup while the loser misses out completely.

Rutgerson, a former prop with the Canberra Raiders and North Sydney Bears, said the Kukis would be tough to beat as they boast NRL veterans like Alex Glenn and Brad Taikairangi.

“It makes a massive difference with guys with that much experience in your squad,” Rutgerson said.

“Those guys are used to playing at a certain level and having a tough grind, whereas most of the American guys, and no disrespect, but we play a game over here that’s at a lower level with a lot less intensity, so it’s a big step up for them.

“When you’ve got NRL players in there to lead the way, it makes a massive difference. We don’t have too many of them, so it makes it a bit tougher for us.”

You can watch the match in Australia via a Facebook stream on Sunday.

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