Crusaders star to lead Moana Pasifika in Hamilton
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: Crusaders star Michael Alaalatoa will lead the Moana Pasifika against the Maori All Blacks in a historic match on Saturday in Hamilton.
Head Coach Tana Umaga has named an impressively experienced rugby side for Saturday’s encounter.
The side includes 66 international test caps and seven who played in Mitre 10 Cup finals last weekend.
Marino Mikaele-Tu’u and Folau Fakatava helped Hawke’s Bay secure a Championship Final last Friday, while Auckland’s Leni Apisai and Salesi Rayasi are now in the same side as Tasman champions – Dwayne Polataivao, Leicester Faingaanuku, Fetuli Paea – who edged them out of Saturday’s epic Mitre 10 Cup Premiership Final title.
Umaga said the squad had had a good preparation week and they were pleased to have a strong squad from which to select.
“We think we have picked a team that can do the job, but the reality is that we picked from a strong squad, and we know every player chose to be here, and that’s a big deal.
“We have a total of 66 international test caps in the side – these guys know how to play rugby, so our focus this week has been on our purpose as a group.
“This is a really special match, and it’s been a very special week. We’ve really enjoyed being able to
come together with common cultures, common stories, and rugby.
“We’re really pleased to name Michael [Alaalatoa] as our captain. On the field, Mike works hard on his rugby, and he works hard for any team he’s in. He’s a quiet, but formidable figure for the Crusaders and a stalwart for Manawatu. Mike is someone who is a Pasifika man at the heart of him, and I know he and his family were very proud when he was selected for Samoa’s 2019 World Cup in Japan last year.”
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Moana Pasifika: 15 Stephen Perofeta, 14 Leicester Fainga’anuku, 13 Fetuli Paea, 12 Vince Aso, 11 Salesi Rayasi, 10 Josh Ioane, 9 Folau Fakatava, 8 Pita-Gus Sowakula, 7 Alamanda Motuga, 6 Peseta Marino Mikaele-Tu’u, 5 Naitoa Ah Kuoi, 4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti, 3 Michael Alaalatoa Manawatu, 2 Leni Apisai Auckland, 1 Daniel Lienert-Brown
Replacements: 16 Samisoni Taukie’aho, 17 Jordan Lay, 18 Sione Mafielo, 19 Samipeni Finau, 20 Nasi Manu, 21 Dwyane Polataivao, 22 Asaeli Tikoroituma, 23 TaimalelagiaEtene Nanai-Seturo
Date: Saturday, December 5
Venue: FMG Stadium Waikato, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19.05 (06.00 GMT)
Assistant Referees: Tbc