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Tonga international in line for debut when Moana Pasifika play Brumbies

By Finn Morton
Semisi Paea of Tonga holds off Eben Etzebeth of South Africa during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between South Africa and Tonga at Stade Velodrome on October 01, 2023 in Marseille, France. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Tonga international Semisi Paea is in line to make his Super Rugby Pacific debut off the bench when Moana Pasifika take on traditional Australian rugby powerhouse the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night.

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Paea, who has represented the ‘Ikale Tahi at Test level, is set to make his mark in the Pacific competition after previously enjoying a stint in Major League Rugby with the New England Free Jacks.

“Semisi has worked hard and earned his spot,” scrum coach Pauliasi Manu said in a statement. “He had a good pre-season and really presented himself.

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“He’s got the physicality and is really strong over the ball.”

Head-to-Head

Last 3 Meetings

Wins
2
Draws
0
Wins
1
Average Points scored
48
30
First try wins
33%
Home team wins
100%

Moana Pasifika have made five changes to their starting side that beat the Western Force at Perth’s HBF Park in round four.

The most notable absence is the omission of Julian Savea through injury, while Sama Malolo Sekope Kepu, Tom Savage, Henry Taefu also make way in the First XV.

Playmaker Christian Lealiifano will start for Moana Pasifika for the second week in a row. The former Wallaby returns to Canberra where he’ll face the side he played 12 seasons for.

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Abraham Pole, Samiuela Moli and Sione Mafileo start in the front row, while Ola Tauelangi and Allan Craig round out the tight five. Jacob Norris, captain Sione Havili Talitui and Lotu Inisi round out the rest of the forwards.

Ereatara Enari joins Lealiifano in the halves, while D’Angelo Leuila and Pepesana Patafilo will link up in the midfield.

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There’s plenty to like about the outside backs with Kyren Taumoefolau and Nigel Ah Wong set to take their places on a wing each, with Danny Toala out the back in the No. 15 jersey.

Moana Pasifika side to take on ACT Brumbies

  1. Abraham Pole
  2. Samiuela Moli
  3. Sione Mafileo
  4. Ola Tauelangi
  5. Allan Craig
  6. Jacob Norris
  7. Sione Havili Talitui (c)
  8. Lotu Inisi
  9. Ereatara Enari
  10. Christian Lealiifano
  11. Kyren Taumoefolau
  12. D’Angelo Leuila
  13. Pepesana Patafilo
  14. Nigel Ah Wong
  15. Danny Toala

Reserves

  1. Tomasi Maka
  2. Sateki Latu
  3. Sekope Kepu
  4. Michael Curry
  5. Semisi Paea*
  6. Melani Matavao
  7. Williams Havili
  8. Fine Inisi
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J
Jon 58 minutes ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Sopoaga is going to be more than good enough to look up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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f
finn 9 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

12 Go to comments
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