17 Players of Samoan Decent Named in Moana Pasifika Squad for Super Rugby Under 20s

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Junior Manu Samoa Captain Wally Tau Vesi during the final of the Oceania U20s Challenge against Fiji. Photo: Provided.

Seven Junior Manu Samoa Squad members and a total of 17 potential Manu Samoa reps have been named in a strong Moana Pasifika squad to compete in this year’s Super Rugby U20s tournament in Taupō starting this weekend.

The side features a total of 12 players from the Junior Manu Samoa and Junior ‘Ikale Tahi who competed in the inaugural Oceania U20s Challenge, hosted by Moana Pasifika and Oceania Rugby – where the Junior Manu Samoa had beaten the Junior Moana Pasifika side by 27-20 and defeated Junior Ikale Tahi by 40-14.

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Inaugural Oceania U20s Challenge, hosted by Moana Pasifika and Oceania Rugby

:After a successful campaign Moana Pasifika is grateful to have had a huge pool of young talent to choose from” said Moana Pasifika Pathways Manager Leasiosiofaasisina Kevin Senio.

“The Oceania U20s Challenge provided an exciting pathway for age-grade players across the Pacific to move into the professional environment.”

“It was awesome to see the passion and pride of these players. So many of them impressed us with their skill and hunger to compete, truly earning their spot on this team.”

“The challenge strengthened the connections with our Pacific unions, and so many rising players are now on our radar because of the event which is great for us going into the future.”

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Junior Manu Samoa Captain, Wally Tau Vesi will play in his second Super Rugby U20s tournament for Moana Pasifika. The explosive back brings his great leadership skills and flair to the side.

Junior ‘Ikale Tahi’s Peter Mafi will be another player to look out for in the competition, impressing coaches with his hard nosed aggressive style of play.

The team list includes 17 players of Samoan decent – all potential Manu Samoa 15s and Manu Samoa 7s players.

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The team also features players of Fijian and Cook Island descent, as well as a group of New Zealand based players who are proud to represent their Pasifika heritage.

Samoa’s De La Salle College standout Alister Saulala has shown a lot of promise with his natural athleticism.

Star of the New Zealand age grade rugby scene, Essendon Tuitupou of Samoan and Tongan heritage will captain the side, bringing plenty of experience having trained with the Moana Pasifika squad this year.

The tournament starts on the 16th of March and goes through until the 23rd at Owen Delany Park. Moana Pasifika will face the Blues U20s team in their first hit out this Saturday at 1:05pm (NZT).

All matches will be live and exclusive on Sky Sport.

Moana Pasifika U20s Team

1 Alex Lui Tafili – Junior Manu Samoa

2 Alister Saulala – Tonga

3 Antonio Popoalii – Samoa

4 Charles Gemmell – Cook Island Māori/NZ Māori

5 Christopher Afamasaga – Junior Manu Samoa

6 Daniel Nanai – Samoa

7 Essendon Tuitupou – Tonga/Samoa

8 Graeme Otukolo – Tonga

9 Harold Rounds – Fiji

10 James Singh – Samoa

11 John Samuelu – Samoa

12 Kanavale Helu – Tonga

13 Malachai Auimatangi – Samoa

14 Malaesaili Elato – Junior Manu Samoa

15 Manatu Leleifi – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

16 Moses Ravula Asrmstrong – Fiji/Samoa/Tonga

17 Panaua Niulevaea – Junior Manu Samoa

18 Peter Mafi – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

19 Poasi Tonga – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

20 Senio Manu Faalupega – Junior Manu Samoa

21 Siaosi Vaioleti – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

22 Siolo Fruean – Samoa

23 Sione Matakaiongo – ‘Junior Ikale Tahi

24 Spencer Ioelu – Samoa

25 Star Sami – Samoa

26 Tagiilima Justice Ripine – Junior Manu Samoa

27 Trent Ririnui – Cook Island Māori/NZ Māori

28 Tyler Pulini – Junior ‘Ikale Tahi

29 Wally Tau Vesi – Junior Manu Samoa

Moana Pasifika U20s Team Management

Head Coach – Doug Sanft

Assistant Coach – Shalom Senara

Assistant Coach – Matt Johnson

Pathways Manager – Kevin Senio

Team Manager – Lennox Sam

Resource Coach – Alando Soakai

Julian Hafoka – Physio

Keegan Hall – Analyst

Junior Manu Samoa Captain Wally Tau Vesi during the final of the Oceania U20s Challenge against Fiji. Photo: Provided.