WELLINGTON, New Zealand (WNN) — Former All Blacks center Aaron Mauger has been named head coach of the Moana Pacific team that will make its Super Rugby Pacific debut next season.
Mauger has previous coaching experience as assistant coach of Christchurch-based Crusaders and head coach of England’s Leicester Tigers and Dunedin-based Highlanders.
Moana Pacifica announced Thursday that Mauger, of Samoan, Cook Islands and Tahiti heritage, has been signed to a three-year contract.
Mauger, 40, played 45 Tests for New Zealand and 89 matches for the Crusaders, winning four Super Rugby titles. He played 53 matches for Leicester Tigers before moving into coaching. He was the assistant coach of Samoa in 2017 and the head coach of the Highlanders from 2018 to 2020.
His appointment by Moana Pacifica indicates the team’s commitment to fostering the talent of the Pacific Islands.
“This is a very special time for the Pasifika people and Pasifika Rugby,” said Mauger. “I loved my experience with the team that played against the Māori All Blacks last year, so being appointed head coach is a real privilege for me as a rugby coach and a Pasifika person,” Mauger said. “I’ve always stuck to my heritage but in recent years I’ve really delved deeper into my lineage and I’m really enjoying the journey of discovery.”
Michael Jones, president of the Moana Pacifica Trust, said Mouger is an ideal fit for the role with the new franchise.
“Aaron has had an illustrious playing career and has coached at the Super Rugby level. He knows how much guts and guts it takes to be successful, which is what we need to hit the ground running when it comes to competition time,” Jones said.
“We know all eyes will be on us and how we perform as a team. We are in good hands and look forward to the journey ahead.”
Next year’s 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition will feature five New Zealand and five Australian teams, as well as Moana Pacifica and the Fijian Drua.
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