14 Oct 2021

Moana Pasifika unveil first player signing

4:10 pm on 14 October 2021

Moana Pasifika have unveiled former Wallabies playmaker Christian Leali'ifano as the club's inaugural signing.

Lealiifano will join Moana Pasifika in their debut Super Rugby season next year.

The 26-test veteran has spent the past two years playing in Japan.

A key playmaker in Brumbies Super Rugby campaigns between 2008 and 2019, Leali'ifano has played 150 Super Rugby games.

He also played for Waikato in the NPC in 2010.

In 2016 he was diagnosed with leukemia but following a successful bone marrow transplant, he returned to Super Rugby in 2017 before heading overseas to play in Ireland's Pro14 and European Rugby Champions Cup with Ulster.

In 2019 his fairytale return to top level rugby was complete when he started at first-five in the Wallabies side that put 47 points on the All Blacks in Perth.

Christian Leali'ifano is Moana Pasifika's first player signing.

Christian Leali'ifano is Moana Pasifika's first player signing. Photo: Photosport

Moana Pasifika Coach Aaron Mauger said the New Zealand born Australian raised Leali'ifano's experience and strong Samoan identity made him an obvious choice for the new Super Rugby entity.

"Christian is one of those unbelievable players who oozes class as a footy player and a man. How he sees the game, how he plays the game and the level of professionalism and leadership he brings will play a huge part in our growth as a team and the development of the players around him," Mauger said.

"As someone who was raised a proud Samoan, there is massive appeal in playing for a team that celebrates my heritage, and my culture," said Leali'ifano.

Leali'ifano will move to Auckland to join up with Moana Pasifika in December.

Moana Pasifika will be joined by Fijian Drua in the new 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition, which will also feature five New Zealand and five Australia sides.