Moana Pasifika granted unconditional licence to join revamped Super Rugby in 2022

Moana Pasifika will officially be apart of a revamped Super Rugby competition in 2022.

Exactly what that competition looks like remains to be seen but the granting of an unconditional licence on Monday means the Moana Pasifika club can now focus towards it with certainty.

As Stuff revealed earlier on Monday, Moana Pasifika has placed recruitment on hold for the past few weeks, dramatically hampering its ability to build a competitive squad for the 2022 competition due to the uncertainty of only holding a conditional licence.

But now it will be able to forge ahead with more concrete plans in terms of player and coaching staff recruitment, commercial partnerships and the logistical side of its operation.

New Zealand Rugby (NZR) chief executive Mark Robinson said having the conditions of the licence removed marked a major milestone.

"Moana Pasifika can now formalise some key agreements with coaches, players and partners as they work toward taking the field alongside our Super Rugby clubs in next year’s professional competition.

"A lot of hard work has gone on behind the scenes and it will be exciting for everyone to watch developments in the coming weeks and months," Robinson said.

Moana Pasifika's interim chief executive Pelenato Sakalia said they are now in a position to move forward again.

"Today’s announcement will no doubt generate another wave of excitement and enthusiasm about Moana Pasifika," Sakalia said.

Rugby Australia (RA) and NZR are continuing to work together towards finalising the structure for a 12-team Super Rugby competition in 2022 that would include Moana Pasifika and the Fijian Drua.

The initial plan was for the two new franchises to be given unconditional licences by the end of June.

Fijian Drua still has conditions attached to its licence but all parties are confident that will move to an unconditional licence in the near future.

“We are encouraged by the progress we are making toward gaining an unconditional licence to compete in next year’s competition," Fiji Rugby Union chief executive John O'Connor said.

The current Covid-19 crisis in Fiji has complicated the final steps.

Moana Pasifika made its first appearance against the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton last year.

The Fijian Drua was established in 2017 and won the Australian National Rugby Championship in 2018.