Super Rugby: Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu reveals mixed feelings on Moana Pasifika

By Clay Wilson for RNZ

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu is happy, but also a touch wary, when it comes to new Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika.

Granted conditional entrance from next season, alongside the Fijian Drua, the new side are expected to be mostly made up of those playing for a Pacific Island country or on that pathway.

But the squad is also likely to feature a small number of players aligned to other test teams, including - potentially - the All Blacks.

That could mean New Zealand's five Super teams could be at risk of losing players, with the Blues very much in that category, as a franchise based in a region of strong Pacific Island population.

As someone proud of his Samoan heritage, Tuipulotu is delighted to see Moana Pasifika get the green light, but admits he has worries about what it could mean for the team he captains.

"With my Blues hat on, I'm definitely concerned about players wanting to leave, and go and play for [Moana Pasifika].

"But taking my Blues hat off, it's good for rugby, it's good for them and every team is going to have high-quality players.

"To be greedy, in that sense, and try and keep everyone here, I don't think that's fair and it's up to the person who they want to play for. If they really want to play for them, you can't hold it against them."

Given his Samoan heritage, Tuipulotu could be viewed as a prime candidate to boost the strength of the Moana Pasifika squad.

A small number of current All Blacks could be permitted to play for the new side, helping ensure they would be competitive and, ultimately, part of Super Rugby on a long-term basis.

Tuipulotu isn't ruling out a stint with Moana Pasifika, but says he is fully committed to achieving long-awaited success with the Blues - for now anyway.

"I couldn't do that to the Blues. I've been here my whole career and probably wouldn't see myself playing for [Moana Pasifika] anytime soon.

"Down the track, if all the stars aligned, it could be possible, but I see my future here.

"Being skipper, there's a bit of work to be done and I've already done a lot of work here. I wouldn't want to let that go to waste."

Despite his desire to stay with the Blues, Tuipulotu reiterates he's happy there will be Super Rugby teams to represent the Pacific Islands, a place many players in the current competition are closely associated with.

The veteran of 36 tests for the All Blacks says, for him, the most important aspect with the new teams is how they will benefit the nations they are representing.

"I know the Fijian team are going to be based in Fiji, and play and train out of there.

"With Moana Pasifika, you've got Tonga and Samoa, [but] how are they benefiting outside of having players come and play for Moana Pasifika.

"I didn't think it would come around this quick, but it's good for Polynesians, in general, to give them more reach and opportunities."