Moana Pasifika team named for Super Round Melbourne presented by Fiji Airways

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – FEBRUARY 10: Christian Leali’ifano of Moana Pasifika during the Super Rugby trial match between Moana Pasifika and Chiefs at Mt Smart Stadium on February 10, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

For the first time ever, all 12 Super Rugby Pacific teams will light up Melbourne throughout the 2023 edition of Super Round Melbourne with double headers played on every day of the round.

Saturday will see AAMI park come to life with the Pasifika Festival taking place in and around the ground. The party vibes will be high with traditional food, modern dance performances and a live performance from Pasifika hip hop band HP Boyz.

Moana Pasifika will play the Gallagher Chiefs at 5.05pm local time in the first match of the Saturday Double Header. After a narrow 34-36 loss to the Fijian Drua in their opening match of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific Season, Moana Pasifika are searching for their first win against a rampant Gallagher Chiefs side.

The Gallagher Chiefs put the Crusaders to the sword last Friday night in Christchurch, defeating the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific Champions 31-10.

Head Coach Aaron Mauger has made a raft of changes to the team that played the Fijian Drua on Saturday.

Ezekiel Lindnemuth returns to the squad after being ruled out on match day with a neck injury which sees double try-scorer Abraham Pole named on the bench. Samieula Moli and Chris Apoua retain their starting positions in the front row and will be bolstered by Samuel Slade and Mahonri Ngakuru in the second row.

A hamstring injury to Alamanda Motuga has resulted in a reshuffle of the loose forward trio. Vailele-native Miracle Faiilagi will make his first-class rugby debut in the number 6 jersey in what will be a proud moment for the Samoan-based flanker. The 23-year-old is joined in the back row by Solomone Funaki and Jonah Mau’u at openside flanker and number eight respectively.

‘Ikale Tahi halfback Manu Paea gets his first opportunity to start this season with Ereatara Enari moving to the bench. At just 21 years of age, Paea will play inside of former Wallaby first five Christian Lealiifano who plays in his 163rd Super Rugby game.

Danny Toala shifts into the boot and will start at fullback, resulting in a new look midfield combination featuring Levi Aumua and Fine Inisi. Anzelo Tuitavuki is elevated into the match-day 23 and will start on the left wing with Timoci Tavatavanawai cementing his spot on the right wing.

There is plenty of experience on the bench with Manu Samoa internationals Ereatara Enari & Henry Taefu ready to provide impact. Ray Niuia and Lotu Inisi are also returning from injury and will make their first appearance of the 2023 DHL Super Rugby Pacific Season.

Moana Pasifika v Gallagher Chiefs


Saturday 4 March

AAMI Park, Melbourne. Kick off 5:05pm (7:05pm NZT)

(Format: Jersey number, player, Moana Pasifika caps)

  1. Ezekiel Lindenmuth (13)
  2. Samiuela Moli (12)
  3. Chris Apoua (6)
  4. Samuel Slade (10)
  5. Mahonri Ngakuru (6)
  6. Miracle Faiilagi *
  7. Solomone Funaki (11)
  8. Jonah Mau’u (1)
  9. Manu Paea (5)
  10. Christian Lealiifano (12) – Captain
  11. Anzelo Tuitavuki (3)
  12. Levi Aumua (10)
  13. Fine Inisi (10)
  14. Timoci Tavatavanawai (9)
  15. Danny Toala (13)
  16. Ray Niuia (8)
  17. Abraham Pole (10)
  18. Suetena Asomua
  19. Michael Curry (9)
  20. Lotu Inisi (1)
  21. Ereatara Enari (10)
  22. William Havili (12)
  23. Henry Taefu (9)

Unavailable due to injury: Alamanda Motuga (hamstring), Sosefo ‘Apikotoa (glute), Jonathan Taumateine (hamstring), Sekope Kepu (achilles), Jack Lam (foot) & Penitoa Finau (ankle).

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