Sione Havili Talitui to lead Moana Pasifika in Super Round

Moana Pasifika newcomer Sione Havili Talitui will captain the team when they face their Pacific brothers, the Fijian Drua in Super Round in Melbourne. 

Havili Talitui’s resume speaks for itself, as a four-time Super Rugby Pacific champion he’s no stranger to embracing big moments. 

Head Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga says his experience will have a positive influence on the team.

“He’s a leader that leads with his actions. He’s got so much knowledge and he gives players confidence on the field,” Umaga said.

“For him it’s just understanding that he’s the player first and as we always talk about in terms of captains, you have to be the player first rather than the captain first. He’ll do that and then hopefully we’ll develop his ability to lead.”

Moana Pasifika are searching for their first victory over the Drua. 

With some players being monitored for injuries, the forward pack has seen some changes. 

“Injuries were the catalyst to the majority of our thinking. It would’ve come down to the last minute decisions and some of the inexperience of some of our group to handle that came into our thinking,” Umaga said.

“We talk about trusting our squad all the time and this is an opportunity for us to show that. We have faith in our players and we know they’ll give their all. It’s a lot earlier than we would’ve hoped but that’s the way rugby is.”

After a standout performance in his debut against the Highlanders last week, Jacob Norris earns a starting spot at blindside, along with talented youngster Allan Craig who will start at lock. Abraham Pole will also replace Captain James Lay at loosehead prop.

Majority of the Moana Pasifika backline remains the same except for one change in the middle, as Henry Taefu comes into the centre position. 

Australian veterans Christian Lealiifano and Sekope Kepu also return to the lineup, named on the bench. 

Alongside them is the next generation of Australian talent with trio Sateki Latu, Ola Tauelangi and Irie Papuni returning home with a potential to debut off the bench. Rising fullback and development player, Kyren Taumoefolau rounds out the squad with a shot at his maiden Super Rugby Pacific match. 

Unavailable due to injury/illness: Alamanda Motuga, Anzelo Tuitavuki, James Lay, Jonathan Taumateine, Lalomilo Lalomilo, Miracle Faiilagi, Neria Fomai, Ofa Tauatevalu, Pepesana Patafilo, Samuel Slade, Semisi Paea, Solomone Funaki, Suetena Asomua.


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