Tana Umaga names experienced Moana Pasifika squad

Tana Umaga Photo: PHOTOSPORT/RNZ

AUCKLAND, 24 NOVEMBER 2020 (RNZ PACIFIC) – Coach Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has named the first ever Moana Pasifika squad and it has plenty of experience.

The Fiji, Samoa and Tonga combined team will play the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton next month.

Moana Pasifika is one of the preferred partners to join Super Rugby in 2022.

The inaugural squad includes nine players with Test experience and another three who have played international sevens.

One-test All Black Josh Ioane will lead the backline that also includes Super Rugby players Leicester Fainga’anuku from Tasman and the Hurricanes winger Salesi Rayasi, who has been one oif the star players for Auckland this season.

Umaga has also included a number of familiar names in the forward pack including Daniel Leinert-Brown, Sione Mafielo, Leni Apisai, Nasi Manu and Michael Alaalatoa.

Umaga congratulated the players selected for the first ever Moana Pasifika side.

“We’re really proud of the squad we have selected – it’s a great side. We were really spoilt for choice with selections, and as we have always known, players were really drawn to be part of this special team. We believe we have selected a squad that represents a great mix of players who identify with the great nations of Fiji, Samoa and Tonga.

“Many of the players are contracted Super Rugby players and all but one have proudly represented their provinces in Mitre 10 Cup in 2020.

” We are really grateful to have had great support from the coaching teams of the Manu Samoa and Ikale Tahi (Tonga) as they also see this as an opportunity to build Pasifika home nations rugby talent and capability first.

“For some players like Josh Ioane, this may be the only opportunity they will get to play for a team that acknowledges their Pacific heritage, in a one-off fixture like this, and we’re excited to have them in the mix.

“We know these players know how to play rugby, and under the Moana Pasifika banner we know they will represent their heritage with pride. This is a true Pasifika side with all of our players not only identifying as strongly with their Pasifika nation, but they also bring a special strength of tradition, culture and language from their families. I’m proud of this squad, and excited we can offer the opportunity for some of our players to connect with their culture and acknowledge their parents and families while for others they will continue their proud commitment to their Pasifika heritage.

Moana Pasifika patron Sir Bryan Williams welcomed the first squad naming as an excellent tribute to the special relationship Pasifika nations have with rugby.

“This is a special day. We are delighted to be able to celebrate bringing together a team of players who are proud of their Pasifika heritage and give them an opportunity to represent the other nations with which they identify.

“As Pasifika, we see this match as an event to honour Tangata Whenua our Tuakana-Teina relationship here in Aotearoa, celebrate our whānau and tamariki, their physical and mental health, and well-being through rugby.”

The Moana Pasifika squad to prepare to take on the Maori All Blacks in hamilton on December 5 is:

Forwards

1 *Alamanda Motuga

2 Daniel Leinert-Brown

3 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti

4 *Jordan Lay

5 Leni Apisai

6 Marino Mikaele-Tuu

7 *Michael Alaalatoa

8 Naitoa Ah Kuoi

9 *Nasi Manu

10 Pita Gus Sowakula

11 Samipeni Finau

12 Samisoni Taukieaho

13 Sione Mafielo

14 *Zane Kapeli

 

Backs

15 *Asaeli Tikoroituma

16 *Dwyane Polataivao

17 **Etene Nanai-Seturo

18 *Fetuli Paea

19 Folau Fakatava

20 Jone Macilai

21 *Josh Ioane

22 Leicester Faingaanuku

23 **Salesi Rayasi

24 Stephen Perofeta

25 **Tomasi Alosio

26 Vince Aso

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