The “Mainfreight Rugby” television programme in its coverage of Heartland Rugby offered an explanation for the improvement of the Cook Islands team. Many Cook Islanders play both rugby and rugby league and the first of the Heartland matches clashed with an important league game. Some players were unavailable for the first Heartland match but were for the second, which would go some way to explaining the Cooks’ improved performance.
Results in the Cook Islands:
Nov. 11 Heartland XV 64 Cook Is. Res. XV 6
Hunt (2), Monaghan (2), Tambour (2), Moore, Reeves, Ashby tries.Lash 8 Con., pen. goal.
Nov. 14 Heartland XV 20 Cook Is. Res. XV 33
Dampney, Lash tries. Lash 2 con., 2 pen. goal.
The matches in Avarua were against the Cook Islands Residents XV. Earlier in 2014 a Cook Islands team played two matches, both lost, against Thames Valley and the Blues Development team as they built up to a World Cup qualifier against Fiji in Lautoka, also lost. None of that team appear to have been Cook Islands residents, with their club affiliation being either in New Zealand, Australia, Japan or France.