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'One of the best wingers in this competition': Moana Pasifika wing tipped to star for Fiji

By Alex McLeod
Photo: David Neilson /

Moana Pasifika head coach Aaron Mauger says star wing Timoci Tavatavanawai must be considered for Fiji selection on the back of a standout debut Super Rugby Pacific campaign.


Tavatavanawai has been a shining light for Moana Pasifika in what has been a tough maiden season for the new expansion franchise, winning just one of their 11 matches, many of which have been impacted by Covid-enforced postponements.

Despite the challenges Moana Pasifika have encountered this year, Tavatavanawai has flourished on the left wing for his team.

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A powerful athlete who possesses a physical frame of 1.87m and 111kg, the 24-year-old has been a nightmare for Super Rugby Pacific defenders, most of whom have struggled to contain his explosive ball-carrying prowess.

That much is reflected by the league-leading 56 defenders Tavatavanawai has beaten this season, a figure made all the more impressive given he has played only six games after facing visa issues earlier in the year.

Tavatavanawai – a former training squad member of the Crusaders and Highlanders – will look to increase that figure this weekend after being named to start against the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Friday.

Speaking ahead of that match on Wednesday, Mauger labelled Tavatavanawai as one of Super Rugby Pacific’s top wings and indicated that the uncapped flyer must be in contention for the Fijian national side.


“He has to be, doesn’t he? He’s proven to be one of the best wingers in this competition in the six games that he’s played and he’s just consistent in everything that he does,” Mauger said.

“He’s consistent on the field, he’s consistent off the field. He’s actually a real leader for this side with how he prepares and also the influence that he has on the guys around him.

“We’ve certainly been impressed with him from a coaching point-of-view.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Moana Pasifika and Manu Samoa midfielder Henry Taefu, who said the prospect of coming up against a star-studded Fijian backline featuring Tavatavanawai at test level would be daunting.

“He’s awesome to have around the team. His energy is really infectious,” Taefu said on Wednesday.


“Just thinking about myself playing for Samoa, having to mark up against the Fijian backline of him, Josua Tuisova, Semi Radradra – he’s obviously been playing really well, and we’re just fortunate that he’s in our team.”


The comments made by Mauger and Taefu come weeks after Fiji head coach Vern Cotter praised another uncapped Fijian wing prospect.

Earlier this month, Cotter suggested that in-form Fijian Drua wing Vinaya Habosi is pressuring the incumbent Fiji wings to keep their spots in the national squad following his eye-catching efforts in Super Rugby Pacific.

“Habosi has been playing very well and finishing in a position where there’s a lot of competition,” Cotter said of the 22-year-old.

“Perhaps some older players and younger ones coming through, I think that’s exciting, and he’ll certainly be putting pressure on some people that have already been selected.”

Like Tavatavanawai, Habosi is a Super Rugby Pacific rookie who has taken the competition by storm, beating the third-most defenders (46) and running the third-most metres (1,062) in the league.

Habosi and Tavatavanawai will both be vying for wing spots in Cotter’s Fiji squad this year alongside established stars like Radradra, Tuisova and Nemani Nadolo.

Fiji’s only confirmed tests for 2022 thus far have been scheduled for the Autumn Nations Series in November, when they will play away matches against Scotland, Ireland and the French Barbarians.

Before then, Tavatavanawai has a Super Rugby Pacific campaign to close out with Moana Pasifika, with the first of their last three matches in Queensland this weekend.

Moana Pasifika team to face Reds

1.    Abraham Pole
2.    Ray Niuia
3.    Sekope Kepu (c)
4.    Michael Curry
5.    Samuel Slade
6.    Sione Tu’ipulotu
7.    Solomone Funaki
8.    Henry Time-Stowers
9.    Jonathan Taumateine
10.    Christian Leali’ifano (vc)
11.    Timoci Tavatavanawai
12.    Danny Toala
13.    Solomone Kata
14.    Tomasi Alosio
15.    William Havili


16.    Luteru Tolai
17.    Ezekiel Lindenmuth
18.    Joe ‘Apikotoa
19.    Alex McRobbie
20.    Jack Lam
21.    Ereatara Enari
22.    Lincoln McClutchie
23.    Henry Taefu


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