Moana Pasifika's recruitment drive continues
TRANSFER NEWS: Moana Pasifika’s off-season signing spree has continued with the announcement that former Brumbies and NRL star Solomone Kata has signed with the franchise.
The Super Rugby Pacific expansion side confirmed the arrival of the 26-year-old wing on Wednesday, just days after it was announced that he had been called into the Tongan national squad ahead of this weekend’s test against England at Twickenham.
News of Moana Pasifika’s acquisition of Kata, who is uncapped at test level, comes a fortnight after he was released from his Brumbies contract despite having signed on for next season.
The Canberra-based franchise released Kata so he could remain with his family in New Zealand amid travel restrictions brought on by Covid-19.
In doing so, he brought an end to his two-year stay with the Brumbies, during which time he won a Super Rugby AU title last year and scored five tries from 15 outings.
All five of Kata’s tries for the Brumbies came within his first six matches for the team following his move to rugby union from the NRL.
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It was in the NRL where Kata first made a name for himself with the New Zealand Warriors, the club of which he played 93 times for between 2015 and 2019.
After crossing for 46 tries for the Auckland-based side, Kata moved to the Melbourne Storm, but never took to the field for the four-time NRL champions before switching to rugby union.
Kata was also a dual-international in rugby league, having played five tests for New Zealand in 2016 and seven for Tonga between 2014 and 2019, including one appearance in the nation’s historic run to the 2017 Rugby League World Cup semi-finals.
Since his release from the Brumbies, Kata played twice for Auckland in New Zealand’s NPC before the province, along with North Harbour and Counties Manukau, were withdrawn from the competition due to the city’s ongoing Covid-19 outbreak.
Moana Pasifika head coach Aaron Mauger said Kata will add power and speed on either side of the ball to the franchise’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific squad.
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“Solomone has already had a remarkable career in rugby league, and so he knows what a professional and international environment needs to look like to be successful,” Mauger said.
“He has a great ability to run strong and stay upright in a tackle. That, combined with his speed, makes him an exciting prospect with ball in hand and we’re delighted to him in in Moana colours for next year.”
Should he make his test debut for Tonga this weekend, Kata will become the sixth ‘Ikale Tahi international – after Don Lolo, Solomone Funaki, Lotu Inisi, Sione Tu’ipulotu and Fine Inisi – to sign for Moana Pasifika next year.
Moana Pasifika signings for 2022 Super Rugby Pacific
Props: Sekope Kepu (Counties Manukau), Tau Koloamatangi (Otago), Isi Tu’ungafasi (Crusaders)
Hookers: Ray Niuia (Blues), Luteru Tolai (Blues)
Locks: Don Lolo (Taieri), Mike McKee (Southland), Veikoso Poloniati (Manawatu)
Loose Forwards: Solomone Funaki (Hawke’s Bay), Lotu Inisi (North Harbour), Jack Lam (Waikato), Alamanda Motuga (Counties Manukau), Henry Time-Stowers (Canterbury), Sione Tu’ipulotu (Auckland)
Scrumhalf: Ereatara Enari (Crusaders)
Flyhalves: Christian Leali’ifano (NTT Communications Shining Arcs), Lincoln McClutchie (Hawke’s Bay)
Centres: Fine Inisi (North Harbour), Henry Taefu (Western Force), Danny Toala (Hurricanes)
Outside Backs: Tomasi Alosio (Wellington), Neria Foma’i (Hawke’s Bay), Solomone Kata (Brumbies), Timoci Tavatavanawai (Tasman), Lolagi Visinia (Hurricanes)