Having lost his job as Highlanders head coach following three mixed years with New Zealand’s southernmost franchise, former All Black Aaron Mauger has quickly locked in a new gig with a team looming as one of Super Rugby’s newest additions.
Aaron Mauger, who earned 46 caps for New Zealand over a seven-year career, is set to join Tana Umaga in the coaches box of the Moana Pasifika side that will take on the Maori All Blacks next month according to Stuff.
Mauger has remained in Dunedin since the Highlanders decided not to extend the Cantabrian’s contract beyond the current season but will link up with his former All Blacks midfield partner ahead of the one-off fixture in Hamilton.
Moana Pasifika, alongside a team from Fiji, are the preferred candidates to join 2022’s Super Rugby replacement, which will pit the two new sides against the ten current franchises from New Zealand and Australia.
“New Zealand Rugby has been consistent in its desire to include a Pasifika team in future professional rugby competitions and we are thrilled to be taking these next steps with Fiji and Moana Pasifika,” said New Zealand Rugby’s Chris Lendrum.
“We are now focused on working with these organisations, the relevant national unions and other partners on the optimal models for the establishment of new teams – to ensure they have every chance of success.
“There is a lot of work to do for both parties but we are excited by the potential to continue explorations together.”
While there’s still well over a year to go before the new teams join the Super Rugby replacement, recruitment will likely begin immediately, and next month’s match between Moana Pasifika and the Maori All Blacks could give fans a taste of what to expect from a side that will likely spend much of the season in Auckland.
While there’s no guarantee that either Umaga or Mauger will be involved in the team for the long-term, neither coach is currently contracted beyond 2021.
Umaga took over as head coach of the Blues from 2016 to 2018, before shifting into an assistant role with the inaugural Super 12 champions.
Moana Pasifika will announce their squad for their match with the Maori All Blacks in the coming weeks.
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