Hawke’s Bay winger Azelo Tuitavuki and tighthead prop Joe Apikotoa join the Moana Pasifika kāinga for the inaugural Super Rugby Pacific season. Both are of Tongan descent and eligible for selection into the ‘Ikale Tahi.
Apikotoa made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs against the Hurricanes in this year’s competition, after being signed on as an injury replacement. He went on to play five games for the franchise and recognised for his agility. The former St Patrick’s College Silverstream loose forward was a standout during his first xv career and was signed on a 2-year contract with the Melbourne Storm in 2014 – his last year of school. However, a month into his stint in Melbourne, he decided to return home for family reasons and resumed playing rugby union. After one season with the Hutt old Boys-Marist club, Apikotoa was selected in to the 2015 Wellington Lions side in his new position of prop. After racking up 22 games for his home province, the 25-year old made the switch to the Hawke’s Bay Magpies in 2018. In 2019, he had a brief stint in Spain with Ordizia RE but soon returned to the Hawke’s Bay in 2020, helping his team to a Championship title and promotion to the Premiership. He has played 28 games for the Magpies and will be hoping to make it 29 this weekend.
Anzelo Tuitavuki relocated to the Hawke’s Bay after concluding his schooling at Auckland’s Liston College. He joined the academy programme and linked up with the Havelock North Club, impressing the Magpies coaching staff and rewarded with injury replacement contracts for the NPC team. The 23-year old is renowned for his impressive footwork and acceleration and his skillset was soon recognised by All Black Sevens selectors. Tuitavuki was invited to the Ignite Sevens camp where he was a standout amongst seasoned sevens professionals. In 2021, he made the switch to the Clive Rugby Club and secured a full contract with the Magpies and has notched up a few tries in their Ranfurly Shield defences. Tuitavuki was recognised as the ‘man of the match’ in their outing against Manawatu and is gearing up for another big week, with the Magpies set to take on Tasman in the first of the Premiership semi-finals this weekend. The Hawke’s Bay Magpies have been the benchmark for provincial rugby teams this season and the addition of Tuitavuki and Apikotoa takes the total number of Magpies to eight.See all news