Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Moana Pasifika players looking forward to the season ahead

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Neueli Mauafu | Reporter

It’s been a dream start for Moana Pasifika this year with a win and a loss in their first two matches, perhaps it’s a sign of a positive 2024.

It hasn’t been the greatest past two seasons in Super Rugby, having struggled to win games. But with a good start and some changes around the franchise, 2024 is looking up.

The signing of Faalogo Tana Umaga as the new head coach was a big change for Moana, as he brings experience from The Blues and a campaign with Manu Samoa. Also joining among the new additions is ex-Crusader and Hurricanes back Pepesana Patafilo.

“I think in a weird way, I haven’t played much Super but I kinda bring that experience, only because I have been around some good teams like the Crusaders and Hurricanes,” Patafilo says. 

“I try to help where I can but also, I’m just trying to be the best me. So, I feel like a little bit of experience but a whole lot of energy because the best is yet to come.”

Patafilo’s inclusion has been a major boost for the team, aiding new recruit and ex-All Black Julian Savea in the mid-field while providing cover for the outside backs when needed. And as the season progresses, he hopes to just “get better day by day” and continue to fulfil his potential.

With the new recruits bringing a breath of fresh air, it has also been a moment of growth for a couple of senior players including forward Samuel Slade.

The Manu Samoa international has been with the franchise since it’s first season and has gone through the highs and lows right from the get go. Now lacing up again for another year, Slade believes that he is now settling into his new role of being a mentor for the younger players.

“It’s been a journey you know, understanding that I have to be better on the field but also in helping out the younger boys,” Slade says. 

“I do want to be better in whatever I can do in terms of helping out the club and my brothers on field.”

Both Slade and Patafilo agree that a lot needs to be done on the rugby field to achieve better results.

“We probably just need to be more patient with our games. In the past, we’re probably guilty of winning a few moments but then dropping off and getting complacent and that’s where the score gets out of reach. And so just being more consistent with our effort for the 80 minutes is our main goal,” Slade says.

Patafilo added, “For me, I just want to unlock my potential and I think that’ll help with just coming in week to week and be better every day.”

Despite the many changes in the club, having immense pride in their Pacific Islands culture and heritage will always be important for the players of Moana Pasifika.

“We’re proud to be Pasifika and we’re unapologetic about it. And I think that’s what makes this team unique, is that we’re proud of our history and we don’t shy away from it. But also that we carry it with us leading into this season,” says Patafilo.

“Believe in us, I feel like big things are coming this year. Keep supporting us and we hope to do you guys proud.”

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