Moana Pasifika will kick off their 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific campaign at home against the Fijian Drua on Saturday 25 February. Mount Smart Stadium is set to come alive this weekend with the sights and sounds of the Pacific on full display. To add to the excitement, one lucky ticket-holder will win a trip for four to Fiji thanks to Fiji Airways.
In a match dubbed ‘the Battle of the Pacific,’ thousands of fans are expected to flock to the match to support their favourite teams with a portion of proceeds from ticket sales going towards the Red Cross and their efforts to support those impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle.
In recognition of the first responders and community groups that have rallied around cyclone victims, Moana Pasifika has gifted tickets to those who have been assisting in recover efforts, including volunteers at Emergency Evacuation Centres.
With a family-friendly time of 4:30pm, Moana Pasifika will be launching the FieFie Zone at the northern end of the stadium. Patrons will be treated to a festival-like atmosphere with performances, food trucks, market stalls and much more.
The relationship between Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua is still in its infancy but has been likened to a brotherhood. The competition newcomers have the utmost respect for each other but enjoy a fierce rivalry over who reigns supreme in the Pacific Islands.
Head Coach Aaron Mauger has named a strong team for the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific season-opener.
Most-capped Moana Pasifika player Ezekiel Lindenmuth will start at loosehead prop and is joined by ‘Ikale Tahi internationals Samiuela Moli and Sosefo (Joe) ‘Apikotoa in the front row.
In his first year as a contracted Super Rugby Pacific player, Mahonri Ngakuru will start at lock to combine with Manu Samoa star Samuel Slade in the second row.
Moana Pasifika’s 2022 Defensive Player of the Year, Solomone Funaki, will start at openside flanker with Manu Samoa loose forward Michael Curry earning a start in the number six jersey.
A debut beckons for Northland Taniwha Jonah Mau’u who will get his first taste of Super Rugby anchoring the scrum at Number Eight. The 24-year-old has impressed in both preseason outings and has earnt himself a spot in the match-day 23.
Christian Lealiifano will captain the team for the clash against the Drua while the incumbent captain Sekope Kepu recovers from an achilles injury. The former-wallaby will be an integral game driver alongside Ereatara Enari who gets the nod at halfback this week.
The blockbusting midfield combination of Danny Toala and Levi Aumua will join forces to create some havoc in the middle of the field for Fijian Drua defenders. The pair formed a strong connection in their debut season and will look to build on their existing synergies.
Moana Pasifika’s 2022 Back of the Year and the most elusive winger in Super Rugby, Timoci Tavatavanawai will star in the right wing, linking up with William Havili and Neria Foma’i to complete the back three.
The Moana Pasifika bench features the 2022 Rookie and Forward of the Year Alamanda Motuga who returns to full fitness after recovering from shoulder surgery. Twenty-one-year-old ‘Ikale Tahi halfback Manu Paea is sure to bring a burst of energy to the field alongside fellow Tongan international Fine Inisi.
Get your tickets to the Battle of the Pacific at Mount Smart Stadium, this Saturday 25 February and be in with a chance to win a trip to Fiji! Purchase here.
Moana Pasifika team to play Fijian Drua
Saturday 25 February
Mount Smart Stadium, kick off 4:35pm
Format: (Jersey Number, Name, Moana Pasifika Caps)
* Denotes Super Rugby Pacific Debut Unavailable due to injury: Sekope Kepu (achilles), Jack Lam (ankle), Penitoa Finau (foot)See all news