21 Apr 2021

Tuipulotu's mixed emotions on Moana Pasifika

5:24 pm on 21 April 2021

All Blacks lock Patrick Tuipulotu is happy but also a touch wary when it comes to new Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika.

Blues captain Patrick Tuipulotu.

Photo: Photosport

Granted conditional entrance from next season, alongside the Fijian Drua, the new side was expected to be mostly made up of those playing for a Pacific Island country or on that pathway.

But the squad was also likely to feature a small number of players aligned to other test teams, including potentially the All Blacks.

That could mean New Zealand's five Super teams could be at risk of losing players, with the Blues very much in that category as a franchise based in a region of strong Pacific Island population.

As someone proud of his Samoan heritage, Tuipulotu was delighted to see Moana Pasifika get the green light, but admitted he had worries about what it could mean for the team he captains.

"With my Blues hat on, I'm definitely concerned about players wanting to leave and go and play for [Moana Pasifika].

"But, taking my Blues hat off, it's good for rugby, it's good for them and every team is going to have high quality players.

"To be greedy, in that sense, and try and keep everyone here, I don't think that's fair. And it's up to the person who they want to play for. If they really want to play for them, you can't hold it against them."

Given his Samoan heritage, Tuipulotu could be viewed as a prime candidate to boost the strength of the Moana Pasifika squad.

It was understood a small number of current All Blacks would be permitted to play for the new side, helping ensure they would be competitive and ultimately part of Super Rugby on a long-term basis.

Moana Pasifika during the cultural challenge before the match between Moana Pasifika and the Maori All Blacks 2020.


Tuipulotu wasn't ruling out a stint with Moana Pasifika but said, for now anyway, he was fully committed to achieving long-awaited success with the Blues.

"I couldn't do that to the Blues. I've been here my whole career and probably wouldn't see myself playing for [Moana Pasifika] anytime soon.

"Down the track, if all the stars aligned it could be possible but I see my future here.

"Being skipper, there's a bit of work to be done and I've already done a lot of work here. I wouldn't want to let that go to waste."

Despite his desire to stay with the Blues, Tuipulotu reiterated he was happy there would be teams in Super Rugby to represent the Pacific Islands, a place many players in the current competition were closely associated with.

The veteran of 36-tests for the All Blacks said, for him, the most important aspect with the new teams was how they would benefit the nations they were representing.

"I know the Fijian team are going to be based in Fiji and play and train out of there.

"With Moana Pasifika, you've got Tonga and Samoa [but] how are they benefiting outside of having players come and play for Moana Pasifika.

"I didn't think it would come around this quick but it's good for Polynesians in general to give them more reach and opportunities."