'We need to be decisive': Moana Pasifika coach looks for reaction

Moana Pasifika are looking to make amends for last week's devastating 59-0 loss against the Hurricanes, when they face the Highlanders on Friday in round six of the Super Rugby Pacific competition in Auckland.

They're also seeking first win of the season following five defeats. The Highlanders, on the other hand, enter the game on a two-game winning streak including their most recent one, a 57-24 drubbing of the Fijian Drua.

"We are very aware of the Highlanders' strength," said Moana Pasifika head coach Aaron Mauger.

"You can see the confidence building in their game, but for us the actual focus has been ourselves...we need to be decisive, we lacked that last week and that's the big message: be decisive."

Mauger's lineup for the Highlanders omits starting flyhalf Christian Lealiifano who is out of action due to a neck injury with Lincoln McClutchie taking his place. The 23-year-old Hawke's Bay first five has so far played 13 games for Moana Pasifika and forms a cohesive combination with fellow Hawke's Bay half-back Ereatara Enari.

Ezekiel Lindenmuth returns to the starting line as does Michael Curry.

Mauger says the team has been examining last week's defeat to the Hurricanes and noting where they can improve.

"It was tough and naturally you feel disappointed and naturally there's pain that goes along with that. We just keep moving forward. Just be decisive - we lacked that last week, and we watched it happen, and you just can't do that in this competition," said Mauger.

"We weren't where we wanted to be in that game around the collision, so that was the big lesson [to take]. We're not a bad rugby team, we don't become a bad rugby team in one week. So it's important to keep that in perspective and to learn from the things that led us to not being competitive in the different areas.

"We got blown out of the park and that's a tough lesson to learn but we deal with it, look at the pictures, learn from it, crack on, look at where we are this week."

Emerging star 23-year-old Miracle Fai'ilagi, continues in the starting lineup following his impressive performances so far. He's joined in the backline by former Samoa 7s star Alamanda Motuga. Solomone Funaki also continues, as he maintains his stellar performance as among the most efficient tacklers in the season so far.

Moana Pasifika welcomes back two stalwarts of their backline in the form of winger Timoci Tavatavanawai and inside-Centre Danny Toala. Toala's kicking prowess will be vital in the absence of Lealiifano.

It will be the second meeting between the two teams since Moana Pasifika lost 37-17 to the Highlanders win in Dunedin last year.