Super Rugby

Moana Pasifika ready to inject new energy into Super Rugby

While players were gradually revealed over the last six weeks, Monday marked another major milestone for Moana Pasifika as their first ever squad was confirmed, with former Highlanders and Crusaders outside back Tima Fainga'anuku completing the 38-man roster.

A Pacific Island franchise in Super Rugby has been a long time coming but having only been granted an unconditional licence in July, Moana Pasifika have worked around the clock to build the team from scratch.

Chiefs playmakers challenged to step up with Damian McKenzie absent

The All Blacks playmaker has been the spark lighting up the Chiefs' attack, but he will spend the first half of next year in Japanese rugby with Tokyo Sungoliath.

The 26-year-old is almost irreplaceable after returning to top form last season as the Chiefs made the Super Rugby Aotearoa final in Clayton McMillan's first year as coach.

Newcomers kick off Super Rugby Pacific

The draw for the 15-week regular season, announced on Monday, gives teams a total of 14 matches. These are made up of 11 round-robin fixtures plus the introduction of three additional rivalry matches which will see each team play a home and away series against three other teams.

The top eight teams will join a play-off series in the first week of June. The final is scheduled for 18 June.

New Zealand Rugby General Manager Professional Rugby and Performance Chris Lendrum said the draw was easy to understand and a level playing field for the teams involved.

'We're going to give it everything' - Moana Pasifika's road to Super Rugby

The Auckland-based franchise will join an expanded competition next year alongside the Fijian Drua and five teams each from New Zealand and Australia.

Head coach Aaron Mauger has been working from his Dunedin home since Tāmaki Makaurau went into lockdown in August, focused on player and staff recruitment and planning the team's first pre-season campaign.

"It's nice, every time we have a management meeting each week there seems to be another person popping on, so that group's growing and they're really critical to helping build our programme."

Assistant coaches for Fiji's Drua confirmed

Harris helped coach the Fiji Sevens programme, he was part of the Tokyo gold-medal winning squad and was heavily involved with Fiji Rugby's 15s programme when the Drua won the NRC in 2018.

Jackson has been involved with the Flying Fijians as an assistant coach on an ongoing basis and was part of the coaching team for the mid-year tests against the All Blacks.

Interim CEO Brian Thorburn said the duo were no strangers to the Fiji Rugby vuvale and have been around various squads and teams in a number of capacities.

Crusaders half-back is the second player to sign with Moana Pasifika

The 24-year-old has five Super Rugby titles under his belt and is currently playing for Hawke's Bay in New Zealand's domestic National Provincial Championship competition.

Enari joins former Wallabies first five Christian Leali'ifano who was confirmed as Moana Pasifika's first major signing on Thursday.

Two more players are expected to be announced today.

     

Manasa Mataele to return to Canterbury after Super Rugby Pacific

The 24-year-old will return to Christchurch to play for Canterbury in next year’s NPC, after completing his first season of Super Rugby Pacific with the Western Force.

Mataele, who will start on the left wing against Hawke’s Bay in Christchurch on Saturday, signed a two-year deal with the Force in July.

His wife, Martha, also a powerful and speedy wing, will continue to play for Canterbury’s Farah Palmer Cup team.

Moana Pasifka to confirm Aaron Mauger as 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.

Moana Pasifika posted on social media last night that the team's head coach would be revealed soon, with a silhouette that clearly matched the 45 test veteran.

The 40-year-old is of Samoan, Cook Islands and Tahitian descent and was a part of the Moana Pasifika coaching team for last year's one-off clash against the Māori All Blacks.

Fijian Drua to be based in Australia next year

The Drua were this week confirmed as part of an expanded 12 team competition called 'Super Rugby Pacific', alongside Moana Pasifika and five teams each from New Zealand and Australia.

But the Fijian team is unable to play on home soil in 2022 because of the country's ongoing Covid-19 situation and closed international borders.

Fiji Rugby Chairman Conway Beg said the decision to base the team in Australia next year was to ensure the Drua's first season in Super Rugby was as disruption-free as possible.

Chiefs confirm departure of All Blacks fullback Damian McKenzie

  McKenzie, whose contract with New Zealand Rugby is due to finish at the end of the year, played 95 times for the Chiefs and is reportedly set for a lucrative move to Japan.

"All I know is Damian is not going to be with us, at the moment that's all I can sort of comment on," the Chiefs chief executive Michael Collins told Stuff.

"I think Damian McKenzie's probably irreplaceable. He's one of the Chiefs' favourite sons, done a great job for us over many years."

The Chiefs on Tuesday welcomed the arrival of Māori All Blacks first-five Josh Ioane from the Highlanders.