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Steven Marsters and Briton Nikora.

St George Illawarra rookie Steven Marsters hopes to follow the same path to the NRL as his cousin Esan after making his international debut for Cook Islands in Friday night's World Cup qualifier against South Africa.

Esan, who will play for New Zealand in Saturday night's Oceania Cup Test against Tonga in Auckland, represented Cook Islands two years ago against Papua New Guinea before he had made his NRL debut with Wests Tigers.

St George Illawarra forward Tyson Frizell held high hopes for the Marsters's future when speaking about him during the pre-season.

Steven, who joined the Dragons four years ago as a schoolboy, will play in the centres for Cook Islands.

"Hearing that from him [Frizell] is pretty unreal but I am patient with where I am going," Marsters said.

"If Paul McGregor thinks I am ready then I am ready but I am not in any rush. I am just preparing myself for the opportunity and if it is not this year then hopefully next year or the year after."

Cook Islands players performing their cultural dance.
Cook Islands players performing their cultural dance. ©NRL Photos

The 18-year-old grew up with Esan in Auckland and was spotted by then Newcastle recruitment manager Peter Mulholland, who joined the Dragons before Marsters had moved to Australia.

He attended Holy Spirit College at Bellambi and played for the Thirroul Butchers in the age group below boom St George Illawarra back Zac Lomax.

"My sister and myself grew up with our cousins, Esan and his brothers and sisters," Marsters said. "We learned off each other, even how to cook and clean.

"That's how I was introduced to footy, we always used to play on the road. It was pretty brutal getting tackled on the road but we loved it as kids.

"Esan has been my idol since I was a kid and he is my role model. The way he plays I kind of just imitate it. Even in the backyard or at the shopping centre, I will step trolleys.

"If I got the chance to go head to head with him, I would love that. He said the same thing, he'd love to get into me."

Marsters will play alongside a number of NRL players in the Cook Islands team, which is coached by former Kiwis great Tony Iro.

Parramatta's Brad Takairangi will captain the team, which includes his Eels team-mate Tepai Moeroa, Brisbane's Troy Dargan and Canberra's Rueben Porter. Raiders fullback Charnze Nicholl-Klokstad was ruled out by injury.

The winner of the match will play USA in Jacksonville, Florida on November 16 for a berth in the 2021 World Cup.

Taikarangi has called for other Cook Islands eligible players to get behind the World Cup campaign and posted the following line-up on social media to show the strength of the Pacific nation if all players were available.

The match will be streamed online.


Acknowledgement of Country

National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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