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Mauger confirmed Moana Pasifika team’s head coach

Thursday 30 September 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Rugby Union, Sports

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Mauger confirmed Moana  Pasifika team’s head coach
Aaron Mauger, who is of Cook Islands descent, has been confirmed as Moana Pasifika’s inaugural head coach. 21092936

Aaron Mauger, who is of Cook Islands descent, pays tribute to his Pasifika heritage and families after he was confirmed as Moana Pasifika’s inaugural head coach.

RNZ Pacific first reported in July that the former All Black would take charge of the Super Rugby newcomers, with Filo Tiatia as his assistant coach.

Mauger, of Samoan, Tahitian and Cook Islands descent, has inked a three-year deal with the new franchise, who will play their home matches at Mount Smart Stadium until 2028.

The 45-Test All Black was a part of the Moana Pasifika coaching team for their first ever match against the Māori All Blacks in November.

He spent three seasons in charge of the Highlanders but his contract was not renewed at the end of last season, and has previous coaching experience with the Crusaders, Samoa (as assistant coach) and Leicester Tigers (as head coach).

Mauger said his appointment was a real privilege both as a rugby coach and as a Pasifika man.

“I have always been grounded by my heritage, but in recent years I have really delved deep into my lineage and I am really enjoying the journey of discovery,” he said.

“It’s an honour to work alongside the likes of Sir Bryan Williams and Sir Michael Jones to bring the Moana vision to life. These men are absolute legends who have carved the path for all Pasifika sportsmen and women over the last 50 years.”

Mauger said it was also special to be representing his own Pasifika heritage and families.

“I know they will all be proud as they reflect on the amazing legacy left by my late Nana Timeteri Roomataaroa Bachop and the way of being that she inspired in all of us,” he said.

“This is an opportunity to be part of something very special, and my goal is to give players the platform they have been crying out for, to play our style of rugby, and to demonstrate that their heritage can be celebrated openly, and that their skills and talent is sought after.

“We have been working hard already on building our team, and I am excited about the prospect of announcing our coaching team and first Super Rugby squad, very soon.”

Moana Pasifika Trust chair Savae Sir Michael Jones welcomed Mauger’s appointment as an important milestone in Moana Pasifika’s story.

“Aaron has had an outstanding playing career and coached at Super Rugby level. He knows the grit and guts it takes to succeed which is just what we need to hit the ground running come competition time,” he said.

“We know all eyes will be on us and how we perform as a team. We are in good hands and we're excited for the journey ahead.”

It’s been a week of announcements for Moana Pasifika, which confirmed Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium would be its home ground until 2028.

Dynasty Sport was also announced as the team’s apparel supplier.

Former All Blacks and Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne was announced as the Fijian Drua’s inaugural head coach on Friday.