Moana Pasifika bolster squad with three Manu Samoa loose forwards
Waikato back rower Jack Lam, Counties Manukau flanker Alamanda Motunga and Canterbury No 8 Henry Time-Stowers have all been plucked out of New Zealand’s NPC to add to the expansion franchise’s growing roster.
At the age of 33, Lam is the most experienced of the trio, having began his professional playing career with Tasman in 2008.
A former Australia Schools and Australia U19 representative, the Hamilton-born product has since forged out an extensive career all over the globe, having played for the Hurricanes in New Zealand, Bristol Bears in England and NEC Green Rockets in Japan.
During his time with Bristol, where he was coached by his cousin and ex-All Blacks and Manu Samoa loose forward Pat, Lam helped guide the club to two Championship titles, which earned them promotion back into the Premiership in 2016 and in 2018.
Following two seasons in the Top League, Lam returned to New Zealand this year to join Waikato for a second stint, eight years after his first spell there, and has made three appearances to date thus far in 2021.
Internationally, Lam made his test debut for Manu Samoa against Scotland in Durban in 2013 and has played 40 times for his country, including appearances at the 2015 and 2019 World Cups.
As it stands, Lam is one of only four players in the Moana Pasifika roster with Super Rugby experience, which will make him an invaluable squad member throughout the course of next season.
The only player to have signed on with Moana Pasifika after playing for them in their first-ever match in a one-off fixture against the Maori All Blacks in Hamilton last December, Alamanda Motuga has already had a taste of what the new team has to offer.
The 27-year-old openside flanker has been a standout for Counties Manukau since making his provincial debut last year through his high work rate on both sides of the ball.
Prior to that, Motuga had starred for the Samoa on the World Sevens Series after debuting for his country in the abbreviated form of the game in 2016.
Three years afterwards, he made his first appearance for Manu Samoa in the test arena against Tonga during the 2019 Pacific Nations Cup and was later included in his country’s World Cup squad, but never took to the field in Japan.
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Motuga went on to pick up a further two test caps against Tonga in the World Cup qualifying series in July, and featured against the Maori All Blacks the week beforehand.
Time-Stowers, meanwhile, is no stranger to Super Rugby, having been played for the Western Force in last year’s edition of Super Rugby AU after having previously been with the Perth-based franchise since 2018.
During his three-year spell in Western Australia, the former New Zealand and Samoa U20 representative featured in three iterations of Global Rapid Rugby, helping the Force win both the Asian and Pacific Showcase Series in 2019.
In 2018 and 2019, Time-Stowers was also part of the Force outfit that competed in Australia’s NRC and started at No 6 in their 41-3 grand final win over the Canberra Vikings two years ago.
Capable of playing blindside flanker and No 8, Time-Stowers has also played his fair share of NPC in New Zealand, having debuted for Wellington in 2014 before moving to Bay of Plenty for two seasons prior to his arrival at the Force.
Returning to New Zealand to play for Canterbury this season, Time-Stowers, along with Lam and Motuga, will compete for spots in the Moana Pasifika back row with Tongan internationals Solomone Funaki and Sione Tu’ipulotu, as well as ex-Tongan sevens representative Lotu Inisi.
Inisi was unveiled alongside his brother and North Harbour teammate Fine, who debuted for Tonga against the All Blacks in July and started at centre against Manu Samoa and the Cook Islands, as Moana Pasifika’s 10th and 11th signings on Thursday.
Confirmed Moana Pasifika signings for 2022 Super Rugby Pacific
Props: Sekope Kepu (Counties Manukau)
Halfbacks: Ereatara Enari (Crusaders)
First-Fives: Christian Leali’ifano (NTT Communications Shining Arcs), Lincoln McClutchie (Hawke’s Bay)
Outside Backs: Tomasi Alosio (Wellington), Neria Foma’i (Hawke’s Bay)
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