Manasa Mataele keen to remain at Crusaders despite Fijian Drua's emergence

Manasa Mataele beams when discussing Fijian Drua’s likely addition to Super Rugby next year.

So, could the Suva-born Crusader play for them after his current contract with the Christchurch-based franchise expires at the end of the year?

Mataele is adamant he wants to remain at the Crusaders for a sixth season, although he realises there’s no guarantee he’s offered another contract, and knows all too well how quickly plans can change after suffering serious knee and pectoral injuries the past two years.

Regardless, he’s over the moon New Zealand Rugby has granted conditional licences to Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifka to join a mooted 12-team Super Rugby competition next year.

“I’m so excited. Especially for Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika. It's such a good addition to Pacific Island rugby as a whole. It's a starting point, I'm sure they will learn. I've heard a few players overseas trying to come back for that as well. It's going to be the start of something great,” Mataele said.

Should the teams have their final business plans ticked off, and Rugby Australia’s approval, Moana Pasifika are set to be based in South Auckland, at least initially, while the Drua will be based in Suva and closely aligned to the Fiji national union.

Mataele, the nephew of former All Black and Crusader Seta Tamanivalu, was plucked from Fiji by Taranaki, who he made his senior debut for in 2016.

Leaving his Fijian homeland was a no-brainer. It’s what Fijian-mad rugby players did, and still do, in pursuit of their dreams.