Super Rugby Aotearoa: Moana Pasifika won't be sixth New Zealand side, insists general manager

Moana Pasifika will boast a roster made up of "80 percent" Samoa, Tonga or Fiji-eligible players, quelling fears that they will simply be a sixth NZ Super Rugby side.

Announced last week, Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua have been granted 'conditional licenses', and are poised to enter a new 12-team format of Super Rugby from 2022.

But with no players officially signed for either team, speculation is rife over whether high-profile stars will become foundation members of the two new sides.

Appearing on Sky Sport's Breakdown, commentator Ken Laban argues for players like Ofa Tuungafasi and Karl Tu'inukuafe of the Blues, and Vaea Fifita and Asafo Aumua of the Hurricanes switching teams. 

None of those players command starting roles with their current clubs, but would be handy additions for Moana Pasifika in their debut season.

Those would play into the intended player base of Moana Pasifika, aimed towards a Pacific core.

"Eighty percent of the team will have to be eligible and/or have played for Samoa, Tonga or Fiji," says insists general manager Kevin Senio.

"For those who are going to align themselves into Moana Pasifika, you can't play for the All Blacks or Australia."

There have been fears Moana Pasifika, in particular, would become another All Blacks feeder team.

Pacific Rugby Welfare chief executive Daniel Leo has tweeted his concerns, requesting World Rugby made sure that doesn't happen.

Ex-Wallabies centre Morgan Turinui has also expressed his concerns, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald that Moana Pasifika would just be another All Blacks recruitment outlet.

Moana Pasifika has played just once, against the Māori All Blacks in December 2020. 

On that occasion, the team was made up of Pasifika players based in New Zealand, including All Blacks first-five Josh Ioane.

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