Levi Aumua’s stocks riding high
Centre Levi Aumua's stocks are riding high after his debut season with Moana Pasifika culminated in an appearance for the New Zealand XV in 2022.
He headed into the 2023 season with his appetite whetted and enjoying the opportunities the Moana Pasifika emergence provided him.
Aumua, 28, told Britain's Rugby World magazine that while his career had been a 'rollercoaster', he felt more comfortable in the professional game.
"Much of that was around the ability to focus on what was required as a professional rugby player. It has taken a while, but over the last 18 months, I've been able to lock down what is required. It's all sinking in now."
Something of a peripatetic journeyman in his early 20s with experience in New Zealand, Australia, France and Japan, when he joined the Tasman Makos in NPC rugby in 2017, he found the stability from which to build his game to the point it has now reached.
Moana Pasifika's emergence in the re-shaped Super Rugby Pacific competition was a perfect fit for his rugby and his combined Fijian-Samoan heritage.
"That [heritage] was one of the things I had to have a good think about. Coming into a team like this, I knew it wouldn't just be about the rugby. From day one, I have felt that."
From a playing perspective, in 2023, he is looking to develop his passing and kicking to round out his game.
With former All Blacks five-eighths Aaron Mauger as head coach of Moana Pasifika, he has an ally in that aim.
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"I can reach out to him comfortably. He gives me a lot of feedback at every training session. He keeps an eye on the midfielders, that's his bread and butter."
Mauger said the franchise was proud of where Aumua's game had reached.
He created opportunities and was able to get over the advantage line.
"He was a key to our team last year, and we expect similar in 2023."
Aumua said their first season of Super Rugby Pacific had laid a platform for the side. There was more awareness of the demands of finishing in the top six. There was also an understanding of the role fitness needed to play.
"We had honest feedback around that at the end of last season. There was a bit of an issue there. So, we did hit the road earlier this season, and the boys have given it their all."
And in the distance, there is the chance he may appear at the Rugby World Cup, with no decision on where his allegiance may lie – he is eligible to play for the All Blacks, Fiji or Samoa.
Moana Pasifika take on the Western Force in the final game of round three at 12am NZT, Sunday 12 March. Live on Sky Sport.