Moana Pasifika name team for battle of the 09

Moana Pasifika have named their side for the highly-anticipated battle of the 09 with the Blues this Saturday at 4:35pm NZT. 

The last time these two teams met the Blues won 31-30 by a penalty try in the final minutes. 

Current Moana Pasifika Assistant Coach Toaigaotumua Tom Coventry was on the Blues coaching staff back then, and said he was impressed with how Moana Pasifika played.

“I thought Moana played fantastically well last year. We were very lucky to win that game and I expressed it to the coaching staff afterwards,” said Coventry.

The Moana Pasifika and Blues connection is strong. Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga was also involved with the Blues while competition Captain James Lay made 12 appearances for them. 

“Even though we’re rivals, there’s a lot of camaraderie between the two teams. Jacob Norris flats with two of the Blues boys (Laghlan Mcwhannell and James Thompson) and Sam Slade is Dalton’s flatmate.”

“For 80 minutes they will be fierce competitors but I’m sure afterwards they’ll find a spot together and have a little kava session or a few beers.”

Commanding his place at Number 8 for Moana Pasifika is the dynamic and reliable Lotu Inisi.

Inisi said: “We’re fizzing for the game this week. Last year we went down in the last minutes of the game so we’re looking to get one back on them.”

“Tana’s brought in a really good rugby program so I think everyone’s enjoying it.” Inisi says when you “feel good, you play good.”

Coventry said: “Lotu has had a marvelous season, he’s consistently and arguably our best player every week on the field. Last week he didn’t miss a tackle and all his carries made the gain line. He finishes a lot of our tries just by his dogged determination to get to the try line.”

“We’re going to have to be careful with him because we like to play him every week in a long season. But I’m looking forward to seeing him play against the Blues because of the form he’s in.”

In addition there are some changes to this week’s team with tough competitor Sama Malolo named at hooker and leader Tom Savage returning to lock.

Fine Inisi earns a start at left wing while Julian Savea returns to the midfield. Donald Brighouse and Ola Tauelangi will bring impact off the bench.

Moana Pasifika is expecting a tough contest with the Blues and will use the match as an opportunity to improve from last week.

“We’re searching for consistency. We’re realistic about where we are in the competition and what we’re trying to achieve in it. A big loss like that to the Brumbies is unacceptable in our minds and the expectations are that we need to be better than that,” said Coventry.

“We also need to take our opportunities to score. But as we learn to become consistent and learn to become better professionals, if we aren’t good enough to win on the scoreboard at least we’re good enough to compete right to the last minute.”

Unavailable due to injury: Alamanda Motuga, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Henry Taefu, James Lay, Jonathan Taumateine, Lalomilo Lalomilo, Neria Fomai, Ofa Tauatevalu, Samuel Slade, Solomone Funaki.

Tickets from $5 available here:

Match Details:
Gates Open: 3pm 
Moana Pasifika v Blues: 4:35pm 
Eden Park, Auckland
Broadcast: Live on Sky Sport


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