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Positional change for Danny Toala the talking point for Moana Pasifika's next clash

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

After having to play five games in the space of 16 days earlier in the season, Moana Pasifika are now set to play their first game in two weeks when they take on the Rebels in Melbourne on Saturday evening.

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Last weekend’s Super Round clash between Moana Pasifika and the Western Force was called off due to the number of Covid cases in the Force camp, which has given the Pacific Islands side plenty of time to prepare for their showdown with the Rebels.

Despite the ample time off between matches, coach Aaron Mauger has still seen fit to make 10 changes to the starting line-up from the last time Moana Pasifika took the field against the Chiefs on 14 April, where they were seen to 45-12 by the Hamiltonians.

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Looking back at Super Rugby’s inaugural Super Round.

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Looking back at Super Rugby’s inaugural Super Round.

Hooker Ray Niuia, lock Veikoso Poloniati and blindside flanker Michael Curry are the sole survivors in the forward pack from the last match.

In the front row, Niuia will be joined by Abraham Pole and captain Sekope Kepu, who will be making his first appearance since suffering an injury against the Highlanders at the beginning of the month.

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Poloniati – who has been a regular feature in the starting XV since making his debut in Round 6 against the Hurricanes in Moana Pasifika’s only win of the season – will partner Samuel Slade in the second row while Curry will combine with Alamanda Motuga and Henry Time-Stowers in the loose forwards.

In the backs, halfback Ereatara Enari, midfielder Henry Taefu and wing Timoci Tavatavanawai have retained their spots in the run-on side – although flying Fijian Tavatavanawai will shift from the right wing to the left.

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Enari and the experienced Christian Lealiifano will partner up in the halves while Taefu will be joined by Levi Aumua in the midfield.

Tima Fainga’anuku takes his regular spot in the No 14 jersey while Danny Toala has been named at fullback for the first time this season after impressing in the centres.

Front-rowers Luteru Tolai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth and Joe Apitoko will provide impact from the bench in the forward pack alongside Sione Tuipulotu and Solomone Funaki with Jonathan Taumateine, Lincoln McClutchie and Solomone Kata covering the backs.

Saturday’s battle with the Rebels – who have mustered just two wins themselves this season – is set to kick off at 7:45pm AEST (9:45pm NZT) at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

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Moana Pasifika: Danny Toala, Tima Fainga’anuku, Levi Aumua, Henry Taefu, Timoci Tavatavanawai, Christian Lealiifano, Ereatara Enari, Henry Time-Stowers, Alamanda Motuga, Michael Curry, Samuel Slade, Veikoso Poloniati, Sekope Kepu, Ray Niuia, Abraham Pole. Reserves: Luteru Tolai, Ezekiel Lindenmuth, Joe Apikotoa, Sione Tuipulotu, Solomone Funaki, Jonathan Taumateine, Lincoln McClutchie, Solomone Kata.

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Jon 4 hours ago
Why Scott Robertson may need to ease big names aside for All Blacks' flexibility

> it was apparent Robertson was worried about his lack of experience at half-back, hence the decision to start veteran TJ Perenara and put Finlay Christie, the next most experienced number nine, on the bench. I don’t think it was this at all. It was a general scope he was putting over all the playerbase, he went with this cohesion factor in every position. > If the main priority is to build different tactical elements to the gameplan, then Ratima is the man in whom Robertson needs to trust and promote. This also I think is antagonist towards the reference game plans. The other plans do not need the speed of which Perenara (atleast) can’t provide, and I think personal is going to be the main point of difference between these games/opponents. That is the aspect of which I think most people will struggle to grasp, a horses for course selection policy over the typical ‘Top All Black 15’. That best 15 group of players is going to have to get broken down into categories. So it test one we saw Christie control the game to nullify the English threats out of existence and grind to a win. In test two we saw Ratima need to come on which dictated that this time they would run them off their feet with speed and the space did open up and the victory did come. Horses for courses. The same concepts are going to exist for every group, front row, lock and loose forward balance, midfield, and outside backs all can have positional changes that the players may be asked to accentualize on and develop. There might be some that _it_ will not ever click for, but they’ll hopefully still be getting to enjoy unbelievable comeback victories and late game shutouts to close it down. Knowing does not mean not enjoying.

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