Moana Pasifika – the pride of the Pacific

Aaron Mauger coaches a Moana Pasifika training session in Auckland last year. Picture: STUFF SPORTS.

The Moana Pasifika rugby team, debutants with the Fijian Drua in the Super Rugby Pacific, is a team packed with Pacific pride when the inaugural season starts next month.

Moana Pasifika head coach Aaron Mauger has included Fijian Timoci Tavatavanawai as an outside back alongside his power pack squad of players from Samoa and Tonga.

“We are more than athletes, we are sons of the Pacific,” the Moana Pasifika website reported.

“We represent our families, our villages and our countries with pride. We stand on the shoulders of our courageous ancestors and aspire to channel the traits they encompassed.”

Rugby legends and former All Blacks Sir Bryan Williams and Sir Michale Jones are among the influential figures supporting Moana Pasifika.

The team has also recruited Southland head coach Dale MacLeod for defence strategy, and specialist prop and former Blues, Chiefs and Sunwolves rep, Pauliasi Manu as scrum coach.

The team, meanwhile, will wear a stunning and special first Super Rugby jersey, the website continued.

The team will be competing in a uniquely designed home jersey that proudly represents the combined cultures and traditions of the Pacific Islands.

The team will be thrown into the fire when the tournaments starts on February 18 against the Blues, Round Two against the Chiefs on February 25 and Crusaders in the third round on March 4.

The Fijian Drua is scheduled to meet the Waratahs in Round One, hosted by the Brumbies at Canberra in Round Two and against the Rebels in Round Three.

“Moana Pasifika is so important for our community because it represents our hopes and dreams for the future,” patron Sir Williams said.

“The jersey is fantastic, it represents so much Pasifika life.”

The fabric of the jersey includes ethically sourced plastic bottles, which have been removed from the ocean and waterways.

Moana Pasifika squad:

Hookers: Ray Niuia, Sam Moli, Luteru Tolai. Props: Sekope Kepu, Isileli Tuungafasi, Joe Apikotoa, Tau Koloamatangi, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Chris Apoua.

Locks: Don Lolo, Mike McKee, Veikoso Poliniati, Alex McRobbie

Loose Forwards: Henry Stowers, Jack Lam, Sione Tuipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Penitoa Finau, Lotu Inisi, Sam Slade, Alamanda Motuga

Halfbacks: Ereatara Enari, Jonathan Taumateine, Manu Paea

First-fives: Christian Leali’ifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili

Midfield: Levi Aumua, Danny Toala, Henry Taefu, Fine Inisi, Solomone Kata

Outside Backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tima Fainga’anuku,  Anzelo Tuituvuki.

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