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Moana Pasifika ready for storm

The Moana Pasifika is getting ready to run onto the field for the last time in Super Rugby Pacific, and coach Aaron Mauger has tagged it as another storm.

They will face the Brumbies who have been the most in-form Australian side and even title contenders.

But taking nothing away from the Moana Pasifika, one just has to remember that the team pulled off an impressive win against the much favoured Hurricanes.

The team will run out on to Mount Smart Stadium for the final time on Saturday night in what has been a disruptive season for the Super Rugby newcomers.

Mauger has made a raft of changes to his team.

“It’s quite fitting that we end our season with another storm week. No other Super Rugby team has had to endure the challenges we have, but our men are resilient and have been up to the task, despite the adversity,” he said.

“We are excited for the challenge the Brumbies will bring on Saturday. For us, there’s still so much to play for every time our men put the jersey on. We’re certainly up to the task and will give it our absolute best.”

Moana Pasifika at Mount Smart Stadium. Picture: Moana Pasifika

Sekope Kepu will captain the team and play his 150th Super Rugby match in his 12th year of playing Super Rugby.

He amassed 141 games for the Waratahs between 2008 and 2019 and has played nine games for the Moana Pasifika.

Mauger said Kepu’s leadership has been exceptional.

“Sekope has been an exceptional leader for this team. His tautua (service) to this team and for the game has been brilliant,” he said.

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“He has found a real purpose here at Moana Pasifika, integrating his proud Tongan heritage with his passion for rugby.”

Kepu is joined by Ray Niuia at hooker and Abraham Pole, who has scored four tries for Moana Pasifika this year. After sitting out Tuesday’s match, Samuel Slade and Michael Curry will combine at lock.

An all-international loose forward trio will start the game with ‘Ikale Tahi flanker Solomone Funaki in the 6 jersey and Manu Samoa loosies Alamanda Motuga and Henry Stowers wearing 7 and 8 respectively.

Christian Leali’ifano and Sekope Kepu as waterboys in their last clash. Picture: Moana Pasifika

Jonathan Taumateine gets the nod at halfback this week, with young halfback Manu Paea on the bench, earning his spot in the match day 23 after an impressive performance from the bench against the Force.

Christian Leali’ifano will line up against his former team for the first time in his career. He played his last match and 150th Super Rugby game for the Brumbies in 2019.

Danny Toala and Levi Aumua will combine in the midfield for the last time this year, with Timoci Tavatavanawai and Solomone Kata on the wings.

William Havili completes the starting side at fullback.

A special debut beckons on the bench, with Lotu Inisi set to make his first Super Rugby appearance. He is joined by his older brother, Fine Inisi in the substitutes. The Inisi’s have played 1st XV rugby together at Westlake, Rugby Sevens for Tonga and NPC for North Harbour together, and will finally be able to add Super Rugby to their impressive list. Anzelo Tuitavuki also appears on the bench this week after a late withdrawal on Tuesday night.

Moana Pasifika v Brumbies
Saturday 28 May 2022
Kick off 7.05pm local time
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland

1. Abraham Pole
2. Ray Niuia
3. Sekope Kepu (c)
4. Michael Curry
5. Samuel Slade
6. Solomone Funaki
7. Alamanda Motuga
8. Henry Stowers
9. Jonathan Taumateine
10. Christian Leali’ifano
11. Timoci Tavatavanawai
12. Danny Toala
13. Levi Aumua
14. Solomone Kata
15. William Havili
16. Samiuela Moli
17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth
18. Joe ‘Apikotoa
19. Sione Tu’ipulotu
20. Lotu Inisi
21. Manu Paea
22. Fine Inisi
23. Anzelo Tuitavuki

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