The inaugural Moana Pasifika rugby coach, Aaron Mauger, said he’s excited to help build a pathway for young Pacific Island players.
45-Test All Black, of Samoan, Tahitian and Cook Islands descent, has inked a
three-year deal with the new franchise, who will play their home matches at
Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.
land that Mt Smart is on is actually called Rarotonga, which has obviously got
my own links back to Rarotonga, so I thought that must be a bit of a sign when
I was making my decision to come on board so I think we’ll turn that into a
good omen for Moana Pasifika,” Mauger said.
an amazing opportunity, a once in a lifetime opportunity really to be part of
this journey, and also to serve the greater purpose at play here.”
former Highlanders coach said Moana Pasifika’s connection to the team's
cultures and heritage is their biggest strength, and will be crucial during their
first season in Super Rugby Pacific.
we can go out on the field and we’re really well prepared, and we're
competitive, and how we perform is a reflection of who we are, then I think
that's going to be the first part of success,” he said.
made sure we got our connection piece right, and that's going to be really
important for us as we go into this next journey together.”
Pasifika have already signed 30 players ahead of their inaugural campaign, with
another 15 players on stand-by.
said it was a huge opportunity for up and coming players who want to represent
Samoa and Tonga.
what it's all about, is really promoting a pathway for young Pasifika players
to aspire to this level and reach this level.”
big part of our purpose is helping develop the game in Samoa and Tonga and
helping their coaches Seilala Mapusua and Toutai Kefu, as they’re building
their high-performance programmes, so that connections going well.”
Pasifika is in talks with them regularly, he added.
connect every couple of weeks, we’re discussing players and what the pathway
might look like for certain players through to World Cups, so that’s a really
collaborative approach and that's happening at a high level as well.”
it might be a while before we can take a team over, just with the travel
restrictions at the moment, but that's certainly a part of the long-term
vision, and to play in front of our people from the home islands.”
this year Mauger ruled himself out of contention for the Moana Pasifika job but
he was grateful that team patron Tuifa'asisina Sir Bryan Williams and Moana
Pasifika Trust chair La’auli Sir Michael Jones managed to twist his arm.
pretty hard to say no to a couple of our legends of our Pasifika community, and
what they’ve done as well so, they really inspired me to jump on board this va’a
and lead in this space.”
said Mauger understood the heart of what the team is about.
Mauger for us really is a perfect fit for not only the challenge ahead, but in
terms of really bringing and adding a huge amount of value not just in coaching
experience, but really understanding the real heart of what this is all about.”
Michael said it had been really important from day one to stay engaged with the
Pacific home unions, and Moana Pasifika are working hard, and together, to
maintain open communication with the Lakapi Samoa and the Tonga Rugby Union.
got a really huge commitment to building the game there, ensuring these men are
really pathway-ing back into ‘Ikale Tahi and the Manu Samoa, and other Pacific
teams if that' the right fit.”
want to ensure we’re a big part of the game and ensuring that the game thrives
and flourishes in the Pacific, and that's at the very heart of what Moana Pasifika
is all about.”
Pasifika are expected to announce player signings over the next few weeks, with
the team scheduled to kick-off pre-season training at the end of November.