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Cook Islands hungry for Pacific Cup

Cook Islands captain Tere Glassie believes youthful enthusiasm has inspired his side's giant-killing Pacific Cup run and hopes it will carry them to victory in Sunday's final and a place in the 2010 Four Nations tournament.

The Cook Islands knocked out Samoa 22-20 in Cairns and Fiji 24-22 last weekend in Port Moresby.

Newtown Jets prop Glassie, whose varied career has included stints at Souths, Balmain, Wests and Castleford Tigers, is now preparing to lead his team into the final against hosts Papua New Guinea.

Glassie, 31, is the veteran in a squad composed mainly of Toyota Cup players unknown on the international stage until two weeks ago.

But Glassie says reputation counts for nothing and a passion for rugby league is the secret to his side's success in the tournament so far.

"It's a young and enthusiastic team and they're just happy to play rugby league, whether it's in the backyard or on the beach or on the world stage," he said.

"I actually feel like I'm 21 again because I'm feeding off their enthusiasm and really having a ball.

"I thought the pressure of winning two really big games would get the better of the boys, but in fact nothing's changed from when we played Samoa and Fiji, so we're pretty upbeat."

Papua New Guinea could be forgiven for feeling the pressure as excitement in the rugby league-mad nation reaches fever pitch at the prospect of joining Australia, New Zealand and England in next year's Four Nations.

Kumuls and North Queensland Cowboys youngster Tyson Martin says it's hard not to think about the big prize on offer to Sunday's winners.

"It's definitely in the back of everyone's mind (and) something that a lot of the boys want to achieve," he said.

The Kumuls eased past a much-fancied Tonga 44-14 last weekend, but the host nation must now find a way to control Cook Island's attacking flair, which proved the downfall of Samoa and Fiji.

And it could be the passionate home support at Lloyd Robson Oval on Sunday that edges PNG to victory.

"We're switched on to play in front of the awesome home crowd here in Port Moresby, so it should be good," said Martin.

"Everything's 100 per cent and we're all putting in the hard yards for each other, so hopefully it will pay off on Sunday."

Tonga will play Fiji in an international rankings match on Saturday ahead of Sunday's final.

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