Moana Pasifika is tonight celebrating a huge milestone for one of rugby’s most inspirational players, Christian Leali’ifano, who at 34 becomes the first Pasifika, and just the seventh player to score 1000 Super Rugby points.
Wearing the Moana Pasifika jersey for the eighth time, Leali’ifano joins an illustrious group of players who have passed the 1000 milestone joining the ranks with Dan Carter (1708 pts), Morné Steyn (1551), Beauden Barrett (1299), Elton Jantjies (1194), Bernard Foley (1095) and Stirling Mortlock (1,036).
Leali’ifano scored his 1001th point the Super Rugby Pacific match against the NSW Waratahs at Moana Pasifika’s home ground Mt Smart stadium tonight.
Leali’ifano is also on the verge of another milestone of 200 conversions scores, currently sitting at 196.
Of Samoan heritage, New Zealand-born, Australia-raised first-five-eighth Leali’ifano boasts an impressive career. A key playmaker in Brumbies Super Rugby campaigns between 2008 and 2019, Leali’ifano amassed a huge 150 Super Rugby appearances with 963 points to his name. He signed with Moana Pasifika for the 2022 season, and has scored a further 38 points over the past 12 Rounds of Super Rugby wearing the Moana Pasifika jersey. At international level Leali’ifano’s career includes 26 Test caps for the Wallabies between 2013 and 2019, including a Rugby World Cup campaign.
Moana Pasifika Trust chair Savae Sir Michael Jones says of the historic moment and Leali’ifano’s achievement tonight “Moana Pasifika are extremely proud of Christian, achieving his 1000 points in super rugby is a wonderful milestone and witnessing him achieve that in our Moana Pasifika colours at our stadium and in front of his friends, family and fans, made it extra special.
“Christian continues to set the benchmark as a player and as an outstanding leader, his resiliency and fortitude is legendary, is a testament also to his courage and resiliency in overcoming challenges on and off the field. We all have the upmost respect and admiration for Christian and we are blessed he is a Moana Pasifika man,” says Sir Michael.
Moana Pasifika Coach Aaron Mauger says the milestone is a true testament to Leali’ifano’s talent and leadership.
“The best thing about Christian is that he is more focused on the team growing and learning how to win footy games than personal milestones and that’s what makes him a great leader, and us very fortunate to have him on our waka.”
Mauger adds: “We love the fact that he will be the first Pasifika player to reach this achievement playing for the team of Pasifika for Pasifika. There is the saying ‘where my feet are, is where I’m meant to be’ couldn’t be any truer in this case and it was an honour to celebrate with him this special moment in his career.”
Playing in the number 10 jersey tonight, the milestone was a special moment for father and son as Leali’ifano’s son ran the tee out to his father to kick the penalty in the 46th minute, “It was a really special moment to see my little man run out. He’s the whole reason I’m motivated to play the game and be the best person I can be, to be a good role model.”
Leali’ifano shared after the match “I’m really humbled by the acknowledgement of this milestone and appreciative of everyone who has been involved in it. I’ve been fortunate to play the game as long as I have, to come back from injuries and illnesses. When I reflect on the journey I’ve been on to get here and the people who have been involved in that, it helps me appreciate each day.”See all news