Mauger named Moana Pacifika coach

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Former All Blacks centre Aaron Mauger has been named head coach of Moana Pacifika, who will make their debut next season in Super Rugby Pacific.

Mauger has previous experience as an assistant of the Christchurch-based Crusaders and head coach of England's Leicester Tigers and the Dunedin-based Highlanders.

Moana Pacifika announced on Thursday that Mauger, who is of Samoan, Cook Islands and Tahitian 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 the Leicester Tigers before turning to coaching.

He was assistant coach of Samoa in 2017 and head coach of the Highlanders from 2018 to 2020.

His appointment by Moana Pacifika indicates the team's commitment to fostering Pacific Islands talent.

"This is a very special time for Pasifika people and Pasifika rugby," Mauger said.

"I loved my experience with the team that played against the Maori All Blacks last year so to be appointed head coach is a real privilege for me both as a rugby coach and as a Pasifika man.

"I have always been grounded by my heritage but in recent years I have really delved deep into my lineage and I am really enjoying the journey of discovery."

Moana Pacifika trust chairman Michael Jones said Mauger is ideally suited to the role with the new franchise.

"We know all eyes will be on us and how we perform as a team. We are in good hands and we're excited for the journey ahead," Jones said.

The 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition next year will have five New Zealand and five Australian teams as well as Moana Pacifika and Fijian Drua.

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