26 Nov 2020

Hurricanes utility excited to represent his Pasifika heritage

9:43 am on 26 November 2020

Hurricanes player, Vince Aso, is excited to represent his Samoan heritage, after being named in the first Moana Pasifika team.

Vince Aso has been an entertainer for the Hurricanes

Vince Aso has been an entertainer for the Hurricanes Photo: Photosport

The All Black hopeful said playing for his nation of heritage would rule him out of New Zealand selection, so the Moana Pasifika provided a unique opportunity to represent his Samoan roots without that consequence.

"I thought it would be a cool opportunity for us Polynesian people that don't get a chance to play in the All Blacks or the New Zealand Māori, to showcase our talent and to represent our countries," he said.

"If I was to play for Samoa I wouldn't be able to get the opportunity or try to get a crack at [wearing] the black jersey, so to be able to represent my country in a different jersey, it's definitely a proud moment."

The team, featuring Fijians, Samoans and Tongans and a Tuvaluan, will play the Māori All Blacks in Hamilton next weekend.

The inaugural squad includes nine players with test match experience and another three who have played international sevens.

One-test All Black, first-five Josh Ioane, will lead the backline, while Tongan veteran Nasi Manu will provide some experience in the pack.

There is plenty of young talent out wide including Auckland wing Salesi Rayasi, former New Zealand Sevens player Etene Nanai-Seturo and of course Vince Aso.

Aso said he was excited to team up with players from other provinces and franchises, but he was especially looking forward to being coached by Fa'alogo Tana Umaga, who called him on Sunday with the news.

"I was really excited [when he called], especially my partner. We were on our way back home from a family trip and we kept it to ourselves, so no one knew," he said.

"Then when the team got announced I got a few texts and calls. They're all really stoked for me and looking forward to watching me represent my culture and I'm looking forward to making the family proud."

Aso said he regarded the man, known simply as Tana, as a legend in the game.

Tana Umaga.

All Black legend Tana Umaga Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The 25-year-old initially had a taste of international rugby when he was selected for the New Zealand U20 side that competed in the 2014 and 2015 World Championships.

He said the dream of playing for the All Blacks one day was still the main goal, but he hadn't ruled out playing for Samoa either.

"It's definitely on my mind. I'll try to give it a crack for a few more years and then if it doesn't work out then I'll look at going overseas or playing for the blue jersey."

In the meantime, he's looking forward to playing the Māori All Blacks and facing the haka at the FMG Stadium.

"I know it's going to be a good game, I'm really looking forward to it. It's pretty buzzy going up against the haka as well, because I think there's that feeling of should we reply.

"It's not far from home, Auckland, so hopefully everyone will come down and support as well."

Hurricanes back Vince Aso scores.

Aso touching down for the Hurricanes Photo: PHOTOSPORT