Moana Pasifika coming together as an aiga first - Mauger

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Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua are new entrants at Super Rugby level who will provide the Pacific tournament with a more regional flavour among the New Zealand and Australian sides.

 

Former All Blacks Aaron Mauger and Filo Tiatia are responsible for shaping the side that has an impressive squad for their first season.

 

Mauger said selecting the squad had not been easy, but there was no doubting the players' enthusiasm.

 

"We are particularly excited by the balance of our squad, we have experience, we have talented young players, we have smart game drivers who understand how to expose the strengths of our power athletes," he said.

 

Part of the process is balancing the amounts of rugby players have been exposed to in 2021, as a result of Covid-19.

 

"Some guys have had a little more rugby than others this year, but those who have had their domestic seasons disrupted by Covid, will come into camp ripping to get into it. They're mentally in a great place, and their training programme has been managed carefully," he said.

There were challenges ahead for the side, he said, due to the newness of their combination.

 

"Right now, our focus is on trying to bring the boys together as a Moana aiga first, and as a rugby team second. We've had to be innovative and adaptable in our approach so far, but our people and our programme will be ready for full team assembly," he said.

 

"There are extra challenges that come with a unique team such as ours – but we also know that the things that are an uncomfortable fit in other team environments are the features that will drive our team.

 

"To know that we only have a couple of pre-season games before we open the whole competition is both daunting and exciting, but we are itching to get into it," he said.

 

The Moana Pasifika squad is:

 

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 Enara, Jonathan Taumateine, Manu Paea

First five-eighths: Christian Leali'ifano, Lincoln McClutchie, William Havili

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

Outside backs: Lolagi Visinia, Neria Fomai, Tomasi Alosio, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Tima Fainga'anuku, Anzelo Tuituvu.

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