Samoa
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High expectations for Moana Pasifika to win against the Queensland Reds

By Lagi Keresoma

APIA, SAMOA – 12 APRIL 2023: There is a high expectation from the Moana Pasifika players and local fans and supporters to win their first Super Rugby game in Samoa against the Queensland Reds at Apia Park this Friday.

Still chasing a win going into Round 8 of the DHL Super Rugby Pacific, inside back Christian Lealiifano has high expectations for the outcome not only for the fans but the team.

“We have yet to win a game and we must win come Friday,” Lealiifano told Talamua after this mornings’ welcome parade in front of the Government Building.

The historic super rugby match is significant for Samoan and Pacific rugby with the player representation in the team that also features local loose forward Miracle Faiilagi who was picked directly from local competition while playing for the Vailele club.

“We need this win,” Faiilagi told Talamua.

Faiilagi said the Pacific Islands journey to the Super Rugby stage was not easy and why a victory in Apia will mean a lot.

“I am confident that on Friday, the whole country will be playing with and alongside us and that is a booster for the team to push on,” he said.

Solomone Funali from Tonga appreciates the opportunity to play alongside the great Pacific islands players in Moana Pasifika and he too is pushing for a win against the Reds.

Moana Lealiifano
Moana Lealiifano

Christian Lealiifano with mother Malaea Lealiifano (left) and aunty Tautalaaso.

Pacific’s difficult journey to Super Rugby
Moana Pasifika’s patron Tuifaasisina Sir Brian Williams acknowledged the Samoan Government and supporters for making this game a reality as recognition of the Pacific islands quest to be included in the world of Super Rugby.

“No one said it would be an easy journey and it took the Pacific that long to be part of Super Rugby,” said Tuifaasisina.

As he walked alongside Moana Pasifika down Beach Road in this morning’s welcome parade, he remembered Manu Samoa’s quest in the 1991 Rugby World Cup where he was part of the coaching team.

In 1995, world rugby was about to turn professional and when the dust settled, the whole of the Pacific Islands were left out of super rugby.

“There was a sense of grievance and it took us all this length of time in our quest to enter super rugby and we managed to do so last year,” said Tuifaasisina.

Moana rugby jersey
Moana rugby jersey

Moana Pasifika patron and formerr Manu Samoa coach, Tuifaasisina Sir Bryan Williams presents a team jersey to the Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.

Bringing the game back to the people
He said the main objective of the journey is to improve the standard of national teams of the Pacific islands and to bring the game back to the people.

“The Friday game is our first chance back and I hope people realise the journey we are on, and we had some good games but could not get it across,” said Tuifaasisina.

He said Moana Pasifika would work harder than before and do better for the upcoming Friday game.

The team was led in a welcome parade by the Police Band to the traditional flag raising ceremony infront of the Government Building and were welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister, Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio.

“Today we gather to celebrate the outstanding achievement of these remarkable athletes who have represented our community and the Pacific as a whole with such honour and distinction,” said Tuala.

“Ruby is a sport that requires strength, skills and determination and our rugby team has demonstrated all these qualities in abundance, and I wish you all the best,” he said.

Tuala was then presented with a Moana Pasifika rugby jersey by Tuifaasisina before the fans and supporters met the players.

The team also visited St. Joseph’s College – Alafua, Leififi College in Apia as well as Vaiola College and Tuasivi College in Savaii.

They also had a Rugby Clinic for the Faleata National Provincial Club at Marist St. Joseph’s Grounds Lotopa.

Moana group
Moana group

Moana Pasifika team and Samoa government officials at todays welcome parade for the team.