April 19, 2021
The Tongan Rugby Union is keeping its fingers crossed in the hope that the creation of Moana Pasifika Super Rugby team will help retain talents in the Kingdom.
Following the announcement of Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua being awarded a conditional licence to join Super Rugby competition from next year, Tonga Rugby Union is seeking help in developing a clear pathway for local players and coaches into the professional ranks.
TRU chief executive Peter Harding told Radio NZ they haven't had a lot to do with the franchise so far as they can't contribute much at the financial end.
"It's about time we actually got opportunities for Tongans and Samoans, Polynesian players, to play for a team that represents what they represent as well.”
"We're very enthusiastic about it and we're looking forward to the team and the club, or the franchise, contributing to our pathway anyway it can."
Tonga's top local talents are usually snapped up by Japanese universities or secondary schools in New Zealand/Australia as a result Tonga does not have a high performance rugby set up on the island.
Moana Pasifika will initially be based in South Auckland but there are plans to eventually play matches in Nuku'alofa and Apia.
The Samoa Rugby Union, which was recently rebranded as 'Lakapi Samoa' is also keen to agree a mandate for Moana Pasifika to help develop its up and coming players on the island.
Pacific Rugby Players chief executive Aayden Clarke said the Fijian Drua and Moana Pasifika, will give players the chance to play top level rugby and represent their heritage.
"Both the Drua team and Moana Pasifika are going to have this added element around identity and the opportunity for Pacific Islanders to associate with that, and be in a team that has that type of culture.”
"So I'm sure many of them will be hungry and will be looking at this as a great opportunity."
By Romeka Romena