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

Moana Pasifika is one signing away from completing its playing roster, but Covid-19 has put a spanner it its pre-season plans ahead of the team's inaugural Super Rugby campaign.

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."

The playing squad was originally due to assemble in late October/early November for pre-season training. That was pushed out to December when the New Zealand provincial competition competition was pushed back until the end of this month.

But with Auckland still locked down, Mauger said they won't be able to come together until the new year.

"Our initial plan was to have a camp pre-Christmas but that's looking unlikely just with the conditions, especially trying to assembly everybody in Auckland," he said.

"We've got a lot of people coming that are transitioning into Auckland with families and families won't come up until January, so we've taken into consideration making sure that guys are spending time with their families during Christmas so first full team assembly will be in January."

The former Highlanders and Leicester Tigers coach admitted that leaves them a very short window to prepare, with Super Rugby Pacific scheduled to kick off on 18 February.

"We're going to have three weeks of training then we're into a couple of pre-season games then into a season," he said bluntly.

"And you match that against 26 years of experience all the other franchises have got plus established roots - it's going to be a good challenge."

But after a 25 year wait for a Pacific Island Super Rugby team, you won't hear any complaints from Moana Pasifika - just a group of people with a purpose and something to prove.

"We just want our fans to know that we're going to give it everything," he said.

"It has been a long time coming so I think we've certainly got to celebrate that and that's what we're doing. It's certainly part of our drive to make sure we are grateful for this opportunity.

"In terms of success it's really hard to say what that's going to look like on the field. We haven't had one training run yet, we haven't assembled a team and we've still got to get through a pre-season so really our focus has been on establishing and building our organisation, building a squad, building a programme and then we'll get a bit of a feel for how quickly we can bring that together.