Moana Pasifika will be likely looking to change some things in 2024, in what was a bit of a substandard season in 2023. The inconsistency of their performance was the surprising aspect of their season as their record of 1-13 doesn’t reflect how their season went. Moana Pasifika lost 4 of their games within a points margin of 3, losing 2 of those games by 1 point against the Drua and the Blues. If a few calls go a different way or execution is different down the stretch you’re now looking at a 5-9 record which is what the Highlanders finished with. But sadly those are merely “what if’s” in reality Moana Pasifika will need to make a lot of changes to redeem themselves in the 2024 season.
New signings: Losing powerhouse backs Timochi Tavatavanawai and Levi Aumua were of course disappointing for Moana Pasifika and their fanbase but they’ve made great signings in return to change the identity of this team and get into winning ways. Sione Havili Talitui is a great example of that, coming from a winning culture with the Crusaders Sione brings championship experience as he was an intrical part of the Crusaders 2023 title run. He also played for Tonga at the 2023 RWC and had some standout performances, Sione can be a real culture changer for Moana Pasifika, look for him to have a big season.
The experienced 33 year old will bring a different kind of flair to the departing Tavatavanawai but after a good showing at the World cup Ah Wong looks to be a great addition to this team. The most polarizing of the signings is of course former All Black and 2015 Rugby World cup winner, Julian Savea who departed from the Hurricanes and will lace up for Moana Pasifika in the 2024 season. Savea, arguably one of the greatest wingers of all time, will not only bring a strong performance on the field but his overall experience and leadership could be the turning point for this team going forward. His aura and experience in the Super Rugby competition (winning in 2016 with the Hurricanes) will be a major boost for a side looking to make waves in the 2024 season.
New coaching: Rugby legend Tana Umaga has taken the reins from Aaron Mauger and will be the head coach of the Moana Pasifika side for the 2024 season. Umaga doesn’t want to make lofty expectations for the 2024 season but is eager to improve from the prior season. “We want to win more than one game,” Umaga says of his target for next season.
“We want to get off the bottom. I’m not big at making massive goals openly.
“[But] I believe we can challenge for the top eight. There are only four teams that miss out, so we want to challenge for that area.
If anyone can flip this team around its Umaga.
An attempt to connect with more fans:
Moana Pasifika will base their High performance sector out of North Harbour stadium in Albany, which is where they will host their first home game. They will also play their other home game against the Blues at Eden Park, then they will host another home game in Whangarei against the Reds. Their home game on the 4th of May has recently been announced, making history. They will face the Highlanders in Tonga for the first time ever. A great chance for Moana Pasifika to put on a show for their home supporters.
Moana Pasifika Squad:
Forwards: James Lay (new), Abraham Pole, Sateki Latu (new), Samiuela Moli, Sama Malolo (new), Tomasi Maka (new), Donald Brighthouse (new), Sekope Kepu, Suetena Asomua, Samuel Slade, Tom Savage (new), Ofa Tauetavalu (new), Irie Papuni (new), Viliame Napa’a (new), Miracle Faiilagi, Ola Tauelangi (new), Alamanda Motuga, Solomone Funaki, Semisi Paea (new), Sione Havili Talitui (new), Lotu Inisi; Backs: Jonathan Taumateine, Ereatara Enari, Aisea Halo (new), William Havili, Christian Lealiifano, Lalomilo Lalomilo (new), Henry Taefu, D’angelo Leuila, Pepesana Patafilo (new), Fine Inisi, Neria Fomai, Anzelo Tuitavuki, Viliame Fine (new), Nigel Ah Wong, Julian Savea (new), Danny Toala, Otumaka Mausia (new).
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Article written by:
Kace O’Neill & Vanessa Leota