Three debutants named for Moana Pasifika against Hurricanes

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Moana Pasifika have named their side for the Round 6 DHL Super Rugby Pacific match against the Hurricanes.

The team is delighted to welcome fans on Friday 25 March to Mount Smart Stadium in what will be the first opportunity for fans to witness Moana Pasifika play in the flesh.

Head Coach Aaron Mauger is looking forward to playing the Hurricanes and has been preparing his side to play their first of three games in eight days.

“The Hurricanes are a quality team and it is great to see them back this week after going through their isolation period. We are looking forward to another opportunity to test ourselves against them. In particular, our ability to absorb pressure and build pressure by executing our game for longer periods in the match and ultimately for the full 80 minutes.”

Mauger has made four changes to the side that were defeated 59 to 12 by the Gallagher Chiefs on Saturday night.

Ikale ‘Tahi hooker Samiuela Moli is elevated to the starting line-up after two impressive performances from the bench. He is joined by an unchanged propping duo of Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Captain, Sekope Kepu.

Manawatu lock Veikoso Poloniati will make his debut at lock after Mike McKee sustained a shoulder injury against the Gallagher Chiefs. The reliable Samuel Slade will join Poloniati in the second row.

An unchanged loose forward trio of Sione Tu’ipulotu, Solomone Funaki and Solomone Funaki will complete the starting forward pack.

Jonathan Taumeine and Christian Leali’ifano will once again start at 9 and 10 respectively with Ereatara Enari and Lincoln McClutchie providing impact from the bench.

Manu Samoa second five eight Henry Taefu will make his Moana Pasifika debut and combine with Levi Aumua to create a new look midfield. Mauger believes Taefu is deserving of a start with the form he has brought to training.

“Henry has a strong physical presence and leadership qualities that will be really valuable on the field against the Hurricanes. He has been training really well and put his hand up for selection this weekend. Henry epitomises tautua, which means to serve, and has been a real team man from the beginning of our campaign.”

Try scorer Neria Foma’i cements his place on the left wing and is once again joined by William Havili and Tima Fainga’nuku in the back three.

Exciting Manu Samoa hooker Ray Niuia is set to make his Moana Pasifika Debut off the bench after switching allegiance from the Blues for the 2022 season.

PASIFIKA (1-15): Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Samiuela Moli, Sekope Kepu (c), Veikoso Poloniati, Sam Slade, Sione Tu’ipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Henry Time-Stowers, Jonathan Taumateine, Christian Leali’ifano, Neria Foma’i, Henry Taefu, Levi Aumua, Tima Fainga’anuku, William Havili

RESERVES: Ray Niula, Taukiha’amea Kolomatagi, Joe Apikotoa, Alex McRobbie, Josh Kaifa, Ereatara Enari, Lincoln McClutchie, Danny Toala…PACNEWS

SOURCE: NZ WIRES/PACNEWS