Moana Pasifika community celebrates historic first Super Rugby squad
Pasifika communities across the Pacific are celebrating the official confirmation of Moana Pasifika’s first ever squad to play in their debut season in Super Rugby Pacific next year.
The squad, announced by Moana Pasifika exclusively first to their fans over the past six weeks, was confirmed today alongside all other teams unveiled by New Zealand and Australian teams, and the Fijian Drua.
Moana Pasifika’s first season is full of promise with Head Coach Aaron Mauger and his team selecting a squad brimming with international experience and oozing exciting domestic talent. Former Wallabies veterans Sekope Kepu and Christian Leali’ifano, will team up with several favourite sons of Samoa and Tonga’s international sides.
Together with many of the most exciting picks from this year’s New Zealand NPC and Super Rugby Aotearoa, Moana Pasifika is set to make an impressive entry into next year’s competition, the team’s first as a new Super Rugby club.
Aaron Mauger said he was humbled by the support the community had shown at every key milestone marked by the club, including the fans support received as each of the players was unveiled on Moana Pasifika’s social media channels.
“Our journey so far has been incredible. Selecting this squad was not easy, but what has been clear is the level of enthusiasm each of these players has shown, for being named in this squad.
“We have been really impressed with these young men – both in our meetings with them, and from watching and reviewing their footage.
“We are particularly excited by the balance of our squad, we have experience, we have talented young players, we have smart game drivers who understand how to expose the strengths of our power athletes.
“Some guys have had a little more rugby than others this year, but those who have had their domestic seasons disrupted by Covid, will come into camp ripping to get into it. They’re mentally in a great place and their training programme has been managed carefully.
“We will undoubtedly have our challenges as a completely new playing group, a new kainga, but it’s pretty clear we all feel a huge sense of responsibility – and deep gratitude – that we are able to come together to represent our cultures, and our families.”
Mauger, and Assistant Coach Filo Tiatia will assemble the squad as soon as Covid-restrictions allow.
“The only other consolation is that a lot of the other guys from the other Super clubs will have had an awkward lead-in to their season too.”
“Right now our focus is on trying to bring the boys together as a Moana aiga first, and as a rugby team second. We’ve had to be innovative and adaptable in our approach so far but our people and our programme will be ready for full team assembly.”
“There are extra challenges that come with a unique team such as ours – but we also know that the things that are often an uncomfortable fit in other team environments, are the very features that will drive our team.
“To know that we only have a couple of pre-season games before we open the whole competition, is both daunting and exciting, but we are really itching to get into it,” he said.
Moana Pasifika opens Super Rugby Pacific 2022 against the Brumbies on Friday 18 February – a match that will herald the start of a new era in rugby.
For more information, merchandise sales, player news and season membership options, go to Moanapasifika.co.nz.
The Moana Pasifika Super Rugby Pacific 2022 squad is:
Hookers: Ray Niuia, Sam Moli, Luteru Tolai
Props: Sekope Kepu, Isileli Tuungafasi, Joe Apikotoa, Tau Koloamatangi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris Apoua
Locks: Don Lolo, Mike McKee, Veikoso Poliniati, Alex McRobbie
Loose Forwards: Henry Stowers, Jack Lam, Sione Tuipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Penitoa Finau, Lotu Inisi, Sam Slade, Alamanda Motuga
Halfbacks: Ereatara Enari, Jonathan Taumateine, Manu Paea
First-fives: Christian Leali’ifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili
Midfield: Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Henry Taefu, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata
Outside Backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tima Fainga’anuku, Anzelo Tuituvuki