Team News: Waratahs vs Moana Pasifika

Team News: Waratahs vs Moana Pasifika

Darren Coleman has bolstered his side by adding three Wallabies to his starting XV that lost to the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Mahe Vailanu returns to the starting side replacing David Porecki. Vailanu is joined by Harry Johnson-Holmes and Nephi Leatigaga who will look to make his starting debut this weekend.

Ned Hanigan returns to the starting line-up, he will partner with Hugh Sinclair in the second row.

Wallabies back rower Lachlan Swinton make his return. Swinton has served his 7-week ban that occurred in round 7 against the Force.

He will be joined by Taleni Seu who moves to number eight and Langi Gleeson will revert to the bench.

Michael Hooper returns after being rested and will take over the captaincy from Jake Gordon. Hooper is leading the team in tackles this season (152) and will be looking to put on a performance in his final home match for the NSW Waratahs.

Harrison Goddard will make his starting debut this year as Gordon moves to the bench. Goddard will partner with Ben Donaldson in the halves.

The centres remain unchanged. Mosese Tuipulotu who led the team in tackles (17) last weekend will continue at inside centre, and Joey Walton will remain at outside centre.

The back three have been shuffled around in the absence on Max Jorgenson. Dylan Pietsch stays on the left wing and Izaia Perese will return and slot onto the right wing.

Perese will look to notch his 50th Super Rugby Cap this weekend (17 for QLD) against Moana Pasifika.

Mark Nawaqanitwase will step up and move from his usual wing position to fullback this weekend.

Head coach Darren Coleman has gone with the traditional five-three split with his finishers.

Tolu Latu and Tom Lambert both returning to the side, whilst in the backs Jake Gordon and Tane Edmed will look to finish the game strongly for the home side.

1 Nephi Leatigaga (Randwick/ Manurewa Rugby Club/ Manurewa High School)

2 Mahe Vailanu (Gordon/ Melbourne Harlequins/ Auckland Grammar)

3 Harry Johnson-Holmes (Sydney Uni/ Cowra Eagles/ Merewether High School)

4 Ned Hanigan (Randwick / Coonamble Rams / St Joseph’s College)

5 Hugh Sinclair (Northern Suburbs/ Lindfield/ SHORE)

6 Lachlan Swinton (Sydney Uni/ Wahroonga Tigers/ Knox Grammar School)

7 Michael Hooper © (Manly/ Manly Roos/ St Pius X College)

8 Taleni Seu (Southern Districts/ Grammar Tech/ Onehunga High School)

9 Harrison Goddard (Gordon/ Dural/ Oakhill College)

10 Ben Donaldson (Randwick/ Clovelly Eagles/ Waverly College)

11 Dylan Pietsch (Randwick/ Leeton Phantoms/ Kings School)

12 Mosese Tuipulotu (Eastern Suburbs/ Southern Districts (VIC) / St Kevin’s College


13 Joey Walton (Gordon/ Warnervale Wildcats/ Wadalba High School)

14 Izaia Perese (Randwick/ Aspley State School/ Anglican Church Grammar)

15 Mark Nawaqanitawase (Eastwood/ St Patrick’s College)


16 Tolu Latu (Two Blues/ Canterbury Juniors/ South Sydney High School)

17 Tom Lambert (Sydney Uni/ West Juniors/ Trinity Grammar)

18 Archer Holtz (Eastern Suburbs/ The Kings School)

19 Charlie Gamble (Eastern Suburbs/ Saracens/ St Bede’s College)

20 Langi Gleeson (Manly/ Harbord Harlequins/ St Augustine’s College)

21 Jake Gordon (Sydney Uni/ Canterbury/ Blackwattle Bay)

22 Tane Edmed (Eastwood/ Trinity Grammar)

23 Harry Wilson (Eastwood/Harbord Harlequins/ St Augustine’s College)

Moana Pasifika


Mauger has named his team to face the Waratahs in his last dance.

Moana Pasifika’s 2022 top try scorer Abraham Pole (Lapaha, Fua’amotu – Tongatapu). Funga Fonua ‘Eua & Ha’apai) is back this year to recapture his throne as he returns to the starting line-up this week. After a solid showing in Lautoka, crossing the line once again, the product of Otago Boy’s High has been a try-scoring machine during his time at Moana Pasifika. He currently sits first equal as 2023’s top try scorer with eight to his name and heading into their final game.

A season’s best performance against the Drua sees Luteru Tolai (Gagaifo Lefaga) get the nod at hooker. The St Peter’s College old boy will be looking to unleash his dynamic running game that has been a prominent aspect of his game throughout the season. 

Completing the front row is the physical Sosefo ‘Apikotoa (Fasi-Moe-Afi – Tongatapu). After a season plagued with injuries for the Tongan International, ‘Apikotoa will be looking to end his campaign for 2023 with a dominant display.

In his familiar number four jersey, Michael Curry (Kaufusi, Fa’atoia, Vaoala) has been a tireless leader for the forwards this year. Often the target in the lineout, Curry’s versatility as a lock and loose forward has been an invaluable asset as a strong ball runner and defender in the second row.

Returning from an extensive hamstring injury, Samuel Slade (Sapunaoa, Vailoa, Palauli) starts as Curry’s lock counterpart. The Manu Samoa international was a marquee figure in the Moana Pasifika forward pack prior to his injury and will relish this opportunity to run out in the orange jersey for the last time in 2023. 

After a breakout debut season, former Lauli’i Lion and the pride of Vailele, Miracle Faiilagi starts as blindside flanker. The 198cm loose forward has been a sight to behold with ball in hand, erupting onto the Super Rugby scene, inspiring local Pasifika players with dreams of pursuing rugby professionally.

Moana Pasifika v NSW Waratahs

Saturday 3rd June, kick off 9:45pm NZT.

Allianz Stadium, Sydney

  1. Abraham Pole
  2. Luteru Tolai
  3. Sosefo Apikotoa
  4. Michael Curry
  5. Samuel Slade
  6. Miracle Faiilagi
  7. Penitoa Finau
  8. Solomone Funaki ©
  9. Jonathan Taumateine
  10. Christian Lealiifano
  11. Timoci Tavatavanawai
  12. Henry Taefu
  13. Levi Aumua
  14. Tima Fainga’anuku
  15. William Havili
  16. Samiuela Moli
  17. Ezekiel Lindenmuth
  18. Chris Apoua
  19. Mike McKee
  20. Alamanda Motuga
  21. Ereatara Enari
  22. Lincoln McClutchie
  23. Fine Inisi

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