Faalogo Tana Umaga to be named Head Coach of Moana Pasifika


All Blacks legend and Manu Samoa Defense Coach, Faalogo Tana Umaga is expected to be named as the next Head Coach of Super Rugby Pacific side Moana Pasifika.

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Newshub reported on Wednesday night that Faalogo will replace former All Blacks team-mate Aaron Mauger, who stepped down from his position earlier this year after Moana Pasifika finished at the bottom of the Super Rugby Pacific table for the second year in a row.

Moana finished their 2023 campaign with just one victory in the final match of the season against the Waratahs in Sydney. The side had won two matches in their inaugural Super Rugby Pacific campaign last year.

Faalogo Ionatana is no stranger to the Moana Pasifika set-up as he coached them during their one-off encounter against the Maori All Blacks in 2020.

The 50-year-old previously served as the Blues’ head coach from 2016 to 2018. Faalogo’s win rate of less than 50% saw the Blues finishing at the bottom of the NZ Super Rugby Conference during each of his three years in charge of the team.

Umaga stepped down to allow Leon MacDonald to take charge of the Blues from 2019, while Umaga remained as the team’s defence coach until 2021 returning to work as a consultant for the Blues from 2022.

Manu Samoa and Blues Forwards Coach Toaigaotumua Tom Conventary is reported to be in talks to sign on as Faalogo’s assistant, although a deal has yet to be agreed.

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The 74-test former All Blacks captain and midfielder inherits a side who are still trying to find their feet in Super Rugby.

Even with a talented squad of players, Moana were not able to reach the heights of fellow newbies Fijian Drua, who advanced to the 2023 Super Rugby Pacific quarter-finals where they lost to eventual champions the Crusaders.

Despite Moana Pasifika being set up as a development for Pacific sides, the club lost its captain and midfielder Levi Aumua to the Crusaders, with the could-have-been Samoan international opting to pursue All Blacks selection.

One of the most consistent performers of Moana Pasifika this season was local Samoan recruit Miracle Fai’ilagi. The loose forward scored two tries at Apia Park against the Reds and was notably missing from the starting line up against the Fijian Drua a few weeks later in Nadi.