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Moana Pasifika recruit two new coaches on eve of Super Rugby Pacific

By Alex McLeod
(Photos / Getty Images)

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Super Rugby Pacific expansion franchise Moana Pasifika have added two new coaches to its management staff just over a month out from the kick-off of the new competition.

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The side confirmed on Monday that Southland head coach Dale MacLeod and former Blues, Chiefs and Sunwolves prop Pauliasi Manu will join Moana Pasifika for its inaugural season.

Together, the pair join head coach Aaron Mauger and assistant coach Filo Tiatia on the Moana Pasifika coaching team.

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MacLeod joins the franchise as a defence coach after having served as Southland assistant coach in 2018 and 2019, and then as head coach between 2020 and 2021.

Under his guidance, the Stags snapped a three-year losing streak in 2019 before improving drastically during his time as head coach.

That was reflected by their three NPC victories in 2020, followed by a semi-final appearance in last year’s Championship division.

MacLeod also has experience as a coach and academy manager for Northland and has previously taken charge of the Blues A and Highlanders Bravehearts development teams.

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Whether MacLeod will return to Southland for the province’s 2022 NPC campaign remains to be seen, but he told Stuff last November that he is eager to juggle his Stags role with his new position with Moana Pasifika.

“Dale knows how to work hard and well in a challenging environment,” Moana Pasifika rugby director Kevin Senio said in a statement.

“He is a man who is passionate about rugby and really believes in his players. He has high standards, takes pride in his work, and really invests in the growth and development of players. He’s a welcome addition to the group.”

He knows how to roll with the punches that Covid tends to throw at a rugby team, and he knows how to make the best of whatever hand he gets dealt. His work with Southland on defence got everyone’s attention and his leadership style is a great fit for Moana.

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Manu, meanwhile, has signed with Moana Pasifika as a scrum coach, a position of which he will bring plenty of experience to after having played 91 Super Rugby matches before retiring in 2019.

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The 34-year-old also earned a 2015 World Cup winners medal when he was called into the All Blacks squad as an injury replacement, but never took to the field to make his test debut.

“Pauliasi is an excellent signing for our coaching group. He is one of these freak players who has mad talent, which is why he has a Rugby World Cup medal from 2015 after he was called in as injury backup for the All Blacks at the 2015 tournament,” Senio said.

“He has been coaching with Counties Manukau and we know that he will bring a fresh players perspective to his coaching. There’s no one better to coach a scrum than someone who intimately knows what it’s like from inside the pack, and what’s needed.”

Both MacLeod and Manu have assembled with the Moana Pasifika squad at Mt Smart Stadium, where the team will kick-off the 2022 Super Rugby Pacific season against the Blues on February 18.

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