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Tana Umaga set for milestone as rookie earns start for Moana Pasifika

By Ned Lester
Coach Tana Umaga watches on as Moana Pasifika warm up. Photo by Michael Bradley/Getty Images

Moana Pasifika have already achieved as many wins in this young season as they did in the entirety of the last and will have the chance to even their season record when they face the Western Force in round four.

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It’s a special week for coach Tana Umaga who will lead the team into his 50th Super Rugby Pacific game as a head coach, offering even more motivation for a good result.

“For me, it’s about the team and how we’re going. But it’s an achievement and we’ll tick it off. Hopefully, we’ll get a celebration after a good performance by us on the weekend,” Umaga said.

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The Moana team will again be without their captain James Lay, with recent recruit Sione Havili Talitui again stepping in as captain in Lay’s absence.

Development player Kyren Taumoefolau has been promoted to a starting role for the first time after impressing off the bench in recent weeks and at the Rugby World Cup for Tonga. the 20-year-old joins Nigel Ah Wong and Danny Toala in an electric back three.

“I was so happy and excited, I couldn’t wait to tell my family and friends. I’m grateful for the opportunity to showcase my talent and represent my team and family this weekend in Perth,” Taumoefolau said.

“The boys have been really welcoming and it’s been so good to learn from some of the greats in the game. The culture that Moana has allows me to play freely and gives me confidence to play my game.”

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Super Rugby Pacific’s all-time leading try-scorer Julian Savea lines up in the midfield again, inside Henry Taefu.

Christian Leali’ifano will be running things in the 10 jersey, with Ere Enari feeding him at halfback.

The impressive form of Lotu Inisi will again be on show, holding down the back of the scrum at No. 8. Havili Talitui and Jacob Norris join him in the loose forwards.

The second row features Tom Savage and Allan Craig with a front row of Abraham Pole, Sama Malolo and Sekope Kepu rounding at the tight five in a powerful front row.

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Related

Moana Pasifika team to face the Western Force

  1. Abraham Pole
  2. Sama Malolo
  3. Sekope Kepu
  4. Tom Savage
  5. Allan Craig
  6. Jacob Norris
  7. Sione Havili Talitui
  8. Lotu Inisi
  9. Ereatara Enari
  10. Christian Leali’ifano
  11. Kyren Taumoefolau
  12. Julian Savea
  13. Henry Taefu
  14. Nigel Ah Wong
  15. Danny Toala

Reserves

16. Samuel Moli
17. Sateki Latu
18. Sione Mafileo
19. Ola Tauelagi
20. Irie Papuna
21. Melani Matavao
22. William Havili
23. Pepesana Patafilo

Unavailable due to injury: Alamanda Motuga, James Lay, Jonathan Taumateine, Miracle Fai’ilagi, Ofa Tauatevalu, Samuel Slade, Solomone Funaki.

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