Moana Pasifika’s Tongan pride to shine in historic match

History awaits as Moana Pasifika prepares to play the first ever DHL Super Rugby Pacific match in Tonga against the Highlanders this Saturday.

12 players of Tongan heritage will feature in the match for Moana Pasifika, ready to rise to the occasion. 

Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has made some changes, but the majority of the squad remains the same as last week. 

Jonathan Taumateine earns a start at halfback and Christian Lealiifano moves into the starting first five-eighth position. Meanwhile William Havili shifts to fullback. 

In the forward pack, Lotu Inisi moves into the starting lineup at number 8 and Jacob Norris goes back to six. 

Proud Tongan Solomone Funaki returns from injury and to the field for the first time this season, named on the bench.

Captain and ‘Ikale Tahi international Sione Havili Talitui said: “We want to put out our best performance for Tonga and we just want to make our people proud.”

The flanker hails from Pangai, Ha’apai, Tofoa and Tongatapu.

More than 20 of his family members are expected at the game as well as some friends from his old school Tupou College, Toloa on the island of Tongatapu. 

Last week’s loss to the Drua provided the team with some key work-ons ahead of this week’s special fixture. 

“There are a lot of learnings we’ve taken from the Drua game. We did some good things in the second half, in particular in the last 20 minutes but we have to be a lot better this week against the Highlanders.”

Unavailable due to injury: Anzelo Tuitavuki, James Lay, Kyren Taumoefolau, Ofa Tauatevalu, Samuel Slade.


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