Five Moana Pasifika players to watch
Ahead of Moana Pasifika’s opening game of 2023 against the Fijian Drua at Mount Smart Stadium on Saturday, we look at five players in their squad to watch this season.
Lolagi Visinia – At 30 years of age, Visinia is in his prime, and while only playing four games for Moana Pasifika last year, he can be a formidable presence with the ball in hand. He shared in Hawke's Bay's recent Ranfurly Shield triumphs and has made 28 appearances and scored 16 tries since 2020. He played 40 games for Auckland from 2012-2016 and 33 games for the Blues from 2013-2016 as well as 40 games for Grenoble in France and 10 in Japan for the Green Rockets in 2019-2020.
Levi Aumua – Aumua thrived with Moana Pasifika in their inaugural season, making nine appearances. He renewed his contacts with Tasman, for whom he has made 47 appearances and has played in France, Japan and four games for the Blues in 2019. He was also a member of the All Blacks XV on their end-of-season tour last year.
Lincoln McClutchie – While competing with Wallaby Christian Leali'ifano and D'Angelo Leuila for first five-eighths duties, McClutchie has the benefit of having performed through a Ranfurly Shield era with Hawke's Bay. He notched 51 games for the Bay last year and sits on 329 points for the side, while he made 12 appearances for Moana Pasifika last year.
Jack Lam – A veteran of 35, he is still a formidable presence in the loose and played a key role with Moana Pasifika in six games last year. He started in the NPC in 2008 with Tasman but has played 42 times for Waikato, 53 times for the Hurricanes and 71 times for Bristol.
Sam Moli – Gisborne-born and a product of Marlborough Boys' College, hooker Moli has played in the Bunnings NPC for Tasman since 2017 and shared in their championship win in 2020. He made 10 appearances last year for Moana Pasifika and has played 10 Tests for Tonga since 2021.
Moana Pasifika take on Fijian Drua at 4.35pm on Saturday 25 February at Mount Smart Stadium in round one of DHL Super Rugby Pacific. Watch live on Sky Sport NZ.