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'Kept in dark' - Moana Pasifika must not become puppet team for NZR

By Josh Raisey
Highlanders loose forward Peseta Marino Mikaele-Tu'u representing Moana Pasifika. Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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Pacific Rugby Players Welfare chief Dan Leo has said players and unions from Moana Pasifika have told him that they have been “kept in the dark as to the details,” after they and Fijian Drua were granted conditional licences to join a planned new professional competition next year.

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New Zealand Rugby announced on Wednesday the latest step towards including two new teams to the five in Super Rugby Aotearoa and five in Super Rugby AU.

Leo offered his take on this announcement on Twitter, saying he has “every faith in Fiji Drua being run well and benefitting Fiji.” This is expected as the team have already proven themselves since their establishment in 2017 by winning Australian National Rugby Championship in 2018.

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On the other hand, he is less confident about Moana Pasifika.

“My 2 cents on P.I Super Teams,” the former Samoa international wrote. “Got every faith in Fiji Drua being run well & benefitting Fiji rugby & Fiji.

“Less so “Moana Pasifika”. Senior Poly (Sam & Tongan) players & Island unions contacting me saying they’ve been kept in dark as to details doesn’t inspire confidence.”

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“Already 2 NZRugby Board members on Moana’s committee & hearing a NZRPA employee being lined up as Moana Director of Rugby. Lots of room for conflict of interest. Very little consultation with SAMOA & TONGA.”

“Need to make sure Moana doesn’t become NZs 6th Super Team”

Leo went on to explain that, as he understands, the unions are not aware of how the team will operate in terms of where they play and which players will be eligible to represent Moana Pasifika. The team played their first-ever match last December, losing 28-21 to the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton, but that team comprised of and was coached by New Zealand Rugby-contracted staff.

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Moana Pasifika Steering Committee Co-Chair and CEO of the Pacific Business Trust Pelenato Sakalia said: “We are excited to finally be so close to bringing the dream to reality, but there is still hard work to do, and we cannot afford to miss the moment.

“This decision on a licence enables Moana Pasifika to proceed with confidence and complete a number of financial obligations to sign off in the coming weeks, and formalise our player, coach and staff recruitment.”

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'Kept in dark' - Moana Pasifika must not become puppet team for NZR

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