Moana Pasifika name team for Super Rugby U20s tournament

Junior Manu Samoa Captain Wally Tau Vesi during the final of the Oceania U20s Challenge against Fiji.

Moana Pasifika has announced a strong squad that will compete in the annual Super Rugby U20s tournament in Taupō starting this weekend.

12 of the players named have been picked from the Junior Manu Samoa and the Junior ‘Ikale Tahi who competed in the inaugural Oceania U20s Challenge, hosted by Moana Pasifika and Oceania Rugby over the last few weeks.

After a successful campaign Moana Pasifika is grateful to have had a huge pool of young talent to choose from. 

Moana Pasifika Pathways Manager Leasiosiofaasisina Kevin Senio said: “The Oceania U20s Challenge provided an exciting pathway for age-grade players across the Pacific to move into the professional environment.”

“It was awesome to see the passion and pride of these players. So many of them impressed us with their skill and hunger to compete, truly earning their spot on this team.”

“The challenge strengthened the connections with our Pacific unions, and so many rising players are now on our radar because of the event which is great for us going into the future.”

Junior Manu Samoa Captain, Wally Tau Vesi will play in his second Super Rugby U20s tournament for Moana Pasifika. The explosive back brings his great leadership skills and flair to the side. 

Junior ‘Ikale Tahi’s Peter Mafi will be another player to look out for in the competition, impressing coaches with his hard nosed aggressive style of play. 

The team also features players of Fijian and Cook Island descent, as well as a group of local players who are proud to represent their Pasifika heritage.

One of them includes De La Salle College standout Alister Saulala who has shown a lot of promise with his natural athleticism. 

Essendon Tuitupou who has starred on the New Zealand age-grade rugby scene will captain the side, bringing plenty of experience having trained with the Moana Pasifika squad this year.

The tournament starts on the 16th of March and goes through until the 23rd at Owen Delany Park. Moana Pasifika will face the Blues U20s team in their first hit out this Saturday at 1:05pm (NZT).

All matches will be live and exclusive on Sky Sport. 


Alex Lui Tafili – Junior Manu Samoa

Alister Saulala – Tonga

Antonio Popoalii – Samoa

Charles Gemmell – Cook Island Māori/NZ Māori

Christopher Afamasaga – Junior Manu Samoa

Daniel Nanai – Samoa

Essendon Tuitupou (c) – Tonga/Samoa

Graeme Otukolo – Tonga

Harold Rounds – Fiji

James Singh – Samoa

John Samuelu – Samoa

Kanavale Helu – Tonga

Malachai Auimatangi – Samoa

Malaesaili Elato – Junior Manu Samoa

Manatu Leleifi – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Moses Ravula Asrmstrong – Fiji/Samoa/Tonga

Panaua Niulevaea – Junior Manu Samoa

Peter Mafi – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Poasi Tonga – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Senio Faalupega – Junior Manu Samoa

Siaosi Vaioleti – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Siolo Fruean – Samoa

Sione Matakaiongo – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Spencer Ioelu – Samoa

Star Sami – Samoa

Tagiilima Justice Ripine – Junior Manu Samoa

Trent Ririnui – Cook Island Māori/NZ Māori

Tyler Pulini – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

Wally Tau Vesi – Junior Manu Samoa


Head Coach – Doug Sanft

Assistant Coach – Shalom Senara

Assistant Coach – Matt Johnson

Pathways Manager – Kevin Senio

Team Manager – Lennox Sam

Resource Coach – Alando Soakai

Julian Hafoka – Physio

Keegan Hall – Analyst


Quarter Final 111:05NZ Barbarians v Chiefs
Quarter Final 213:05Blues v Moana Pasifika
Quarter Final 315:05Hurricanes v Fijian Drua
Quarter Final 417:05Highlanders v Crusaders
511:052nd Highest Rank QF Loser v 3rd Highest Rank QF Loser
613:05Highest Rank QF Loser v 4th Highest Rank QF Loser
7 Semi Final 1 15:052nd Highest Rank QF Winner v 3rd Highest Rank QF Winner
8 Semi Final 217:05Highest Rank QF Winner v 4th Highest Rank QF Winner
9 (7th/8th Playoff) 11:05Loser Match 5 v Loser Match 6
10 (5th/6th Playoff)13:05Winner Match 5 v Winner Match 6
11 (3rd/4th Playoff) 15:05Loser Match 7 v Loser Match 8
12 Final (1st/2nd Playoff)17:05Winner Match 7 v Winner Match 8
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