Moana Pasifika sign exciting Kiwi youngster Lincoln McClutchie
Long recognised as one of New Zealand’s standout youngsters, the deal with the new expansion franchise presents McClutchie with his first opportunity at Super Rugby level after four seasons of NPC experience with Hawke’s Bay.
Signed by the Magpies straight out of Hastings Boys’ High School, the former New Zealand Schools representative made his first-class debut for Hawke’s Bay in 2018, starting in five of his six appearances at provincial level.
After playing a prominent role in Hawke’s Bay’s run to the NPC Championship final in 2019, McClutchie moved to Japan to join the NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes for the 2020 Top League campaign after missing out on a Super Rugby deal.
Limited to just three appearances for the Red Hurricanes – where he played alongside Liam Squire and Marty Banks – due to Covid-19, the 22-year-old returned to New Zealand and starred as the Magpies claimed the NPC Championship title in 2020.
An influential figure for Hawke’s Bay through his strong attacking and kicking game, McClutchie was also part of the Magpies side that won the Ranfurly Shield last year, and has been crucial in helping his side retain the Log o’ Wood throughout 2021.
Much of Hawke’s Bay’s success this season, which currently sees them at the top of the NPC Premiership standings after seven rounds, can be attributed to the talents of McClutchie, which Moana Pasifika will hope to tap into next year.
Of Maori descent, McClutchie is the only Moana Pasifika signing thus far who is not of Pacific Island heritage, but his Polynesian background aligns with the ethos of the Auckland-based outfit.
It’s at Mt Smart Stadium where McClutchie will be expected to resume his halves partnership with Hawke’s Bay halfback Ere Enari, both of whom will be joined in Auckland by Magpies teammates Neria Foma’i and Solomone Funaki.
However, McClutchie is set to face stern competition for the No 10 jersey from ex-Wallabies first-five Christian Leali’ifano, who was named as the franchise’s first-ever signing last week.
McClutchie, Enari, Foma’i, Funaki and Leali’ifano are joined in the current Moana Pasifika roster by ex-Wallabies centurion Sekope Kepu, Manu Samoa duo Henry Taefu and Tomasi Alosio, and ‘Ikale Tahi utility forward Sione Tu’ipulotu.
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