Moana Pasifika

Moana Pasifika aims to ride wave of inaugural rugby match against Māori All Blacks

The composite team lost their first ever match 28-21 to the Māori but led at half-time and kept challenging the defence until the end.

After a week of building combinations while celebrating the cultures and connections of the Pacific, Moana Pasifika coach Fa'alogo Tana Umaga said the performance of the combined pre-match cultural challenge, Tau Kaukawa, was an emotional moment.

He said it marked the beginning of what he hoped the Moana Pasifika would become.

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The combined Pacific Island team led 9-7 at half time.

It was an even tussle in the first 40 minutes with both sides making a number of breaks however turnovers let them down.

The Māori were guilty of giving away penalties in their own half which Josh Ioane took advantage of with three first half penalties.

Māori fullback Kaleb Trask scored the only try of the first half when he broke through some weak tackling to crash over under the post, which he then converted.

Crusaders prop Michael Alaalatoa to captain Pasifika side

Pasifika coach Tana Umaga’s side includes 66 international test caps and it will need to lean on all of that experience to get by a strong Māori All Blacks team in Hamilton on Saturday.

First-five eighth Josh Ioane will be a key man in the Moana Pasifika cause and if his forward pack can deliver front foot ball, Ioane has multiple strike weapons outside of him.

Changing of the guard for Māori All Blacks

Lock Manaaki Selby-Rickit, midfielders Quinn Tupaea and Billy Proctor along with fullback Kaleb Trask are the newcomers named in the starting fifteen while hooker Kurt Eklund, prop Tamaiti Williams, loose forward Ethan Roots and halfback Rameka Poihipi are set to make their debuts off the bench.

There are still a few veterans around though with hooker Ash Dixon to captain the side, Liam Messam at number eight and prop Josh Hohneck who last played for the side in 2015 all included.

Tana Umaga names experienced Moana Pasifika squad

The Fiji, Samoa and Tonga combined team will play the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton next month.

Moana Pasifika is one of the preferred partners to join Super Rugby in 2022.

The inaugural squad includes nine players with Test experience and another three who have played international sevens.

One-test All Black Josh Ioane will lead the backline that also includes Super Rugby players Leicester Fainga'anuku from Tasman and the Hurricanes winger Salesi Rayasi, who has been one oif the star players for Auckland this season.