Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Moana Pasifika head coach appointment is a “blessing” for Fa’alogo Tana Umaga

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

Former All Black Fa’alogo Tana Umaga has been appointed as the new head coach for Moana Pasifika. Umaga will join the club on a three year contract after Aaron Mauger departed the team at the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

A stalwart in New Zealand and Pacific rugby, Umaga was appointed the first ever All Blacks captain of pacific descent and played a major role in the black jersey from 1997-2005.

He is no stranger to the Moana Pasifika franchise having coached the first assembled form of the team in their one off match with New Zealand Māori in 2020. 

Tana Umaga coaching Moana Pasifika. Photo: Tagata Pasifika

Umaga joins the team after succumbing to one win of the 2023 season. Despite the results not favouring them, Moana Pasifika were at times in close range of big upsets too. It showed that the potential was there for the club to reach greater heights. It’s the same potential Umaga is hoping to tap into for next year.

“I’ve always held a special place for Moana Pasifika since its inception,” he said.

“From their first game Moana Pasifika have shown flair ability to contest with the calibre teams of the Super Rugby Pacific competition. I’m excited to progress their journey in 2024”.

A key part in the establishment of Moana Pasifika was the development of pathways for aspiring pacific rugby stars. 

Photo: Moana Pasifika

An example of this was the signing of Samoan local talent Miracle Fai’ilagi who impressed many this year with his incredible athleticism. With the Rugby World Cup looming, Fai’ilagi will definitely be one to watch out for with Manu Samoa.

Stories like Miracle Fai’ilagi are what Umaga is hoping to draw on as “foundations” of the club.

“We start on our foundations and build on what is there and learn from it. A lot of those games were close, so it’s more of how to build confidence” he said.

“When you lose a few, there’s obviously a bit of a drawback on how we can change those small losses into wins. We gain a lot from Drua and we hope to implement that as well and just keep improving”.

Currently in Samoa as part of the Manu Samoa coaching staff, Umaga has had time to reflect on his new calling while surrounded by his relatives and family in the motherland. The calling has been an opportunity for him to “give back” to what his parents and grandparents provided for him earlier in his career.

“Our parents and grandparents have done so much for us and our families and those who come after them. It is a blessing to be in this position and it comes with the responsibility that I am aware of”.

“It is something that I feel is my time to do, and being with Manu Samoa here in Samoa, makes me feel like I am doing the right thing at the right time for myself and also our people”.

Sir Michael Jones with ex-Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Maurer. Photo: Photosport

Moana Pasifika Chair La’auli Savae Sir Michael Jones says “We are delighted to appoint Tana Umaga as Head Coach, who as the first All Black Captain of Pasifika descent and a significant history of coaching both at international and Super Rugby level, brings a wealth of experience and mana to the role”

“Tana also provides direct connections to our Pacific home nations given his current coaching role with Manu Samoa which supports the ambition of Moana Pasifika to provide high performance pathways for players who want to represent Pacific Island nations.”  

“He is the embodiment of Moana Pasifika and all that we stand for, our dreams and aspirations. His ability to mentor and develop his charges on and off the field is an invaluable asset for our programme, we are extremely excited for what the future holds for Moana Pasifika under Tana’s guidance and influence.

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