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Mauger departs from Moana Pasifika

Monday 22 May 2023 | Written by RNZ | Published in New Zealand, Regional, Rugby Union, Sports

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Mauger departs from Moana Pasifika
Aaron Mauger. 23052113 / SUPPLIED

Aaron Mauger has resigned as head coach of Moana Pasifika.

Mauger signed a three year contract in October 2021 but he won't be continuing next season.

It has been a difficult season for the Auckland based side, losing all 12 matches to date.

Mauger says it will take some time for the new franchise to become an established force in Super Rugby.

Speaking to media yesterday, Mauger said the side has faced a number of barriers.

"We're still trying to really establish ourselves right across the board, we always knew that would take 3-5 years to get those foundations in place."

Mauger said for an example of a club building to success, look no further than his former franchise the Crusaders.

“Their history, first three years and they have turned into the greatest franchise in Super Rugby history. Even the champions had found it tough going early on.”

The former All Black said better infrastructure and pathways are needed to keep talented Pacific players in the islands.

"I love this team, I love what this club is all about. I’m really proud of what we have achieved in testing conditions, that just hasn't come to fruition on the scoreboard."

Mauger concedes Moana were on the back foot from the beginning having to cope with Covid.

"We just had to adapt and carry on. It was a crazy old journey. We navigated through that first year and I think we over achieved, managing to knock a couple of top six teams over was awesome."

Mauger says the aspirations were set higher in 2023 but the results didn't come.

"The competition is a lot tougher, we were aiming for a top eight spot, so it's a real shame that we have fallen short there."

Mauger will stay on as the team's head coach for the final two games of the season, away to Fijian Drua and the Waratahs and then depart his role.

He says the spirit of the side is strong.

"It's been tough, often the mood of the environment is dictated by the results, but so many of out players have made sacrificed for this team."

His attention now shifts elsewhere.

"My time is required back home with the people most important."

Mauger said last weekend he got to watch his son play and the look on his boy's face made him realise what he had been missing.

He said it has been an absolute privilege to be a part of the Moana Pasifika journey and broader movement for the Pasifika community.

"I have given everything for the cause in testing conditions but it's now time for me to return home to my family and give my best back to Amy and my four beautiful children."

Mauger said the loyal Moana community have been unwavering in their support and positive encouragement.

"Your spirit and support have been hugely uplifting for the team in challenging conditions. Keep the faith and ride the waves with the team, they acknowledge and play for you every week."

Moana Pasifika's chair La'auli Savae Sir Michael Jones says the club will now begin the process of searching for a new Head Coach for 2024.

Mauger has ruled out an immediate switch to the vacant Crusaders head coach position, saying he will take an extended break form the game.

- RNZ