New South Auckland based Pacific Islands Super Rugby team gaining support

Headlines 15/07/2020

A Pacific Islands Super Rugby team, based in South Auckland, is gaining traction.

A group of former All Blacks, including two-time World Cup winner Jerome Kaino, are behind the establishment of the first professional rugby union team in Hawaii.

Kanaloa Hawaii has had its bid to join America's Major League Rugby confirmed and is now in talks with NZ Rugby about joining a revamped Super Rugby competition.

It would be a separate team to the one that will play in the US and would be based in South Auckland.

Kaino, and fellow former All Blacks Joe Rokocoko, John Afoa, Benson Stanley, Anthony Tuitavake and Ben Atiga are in the Kanaloa Hawaii ownership group.

All have either Samoan, Tongan or Fijian heritage.

"Creating an even playing field for Polynesians and Maori to get on the world stage, and the impact you have on the people back home is enormous," Kaino says. "You end up finding out that rugby is more than a game.

"That's what it means to us - to be able to create a legacy and create something special to pass on to the next generation and show what our little nations can do on the world stage."

Kanaloa Hawaii chief executive Tracy Atiga has told RNZ Pacific they have already had discussions with NZ Rugby about joining a new-look Super Rugby tournament.

NZ Rugby is currently examining the future make-up of Super Rugby and the international Rugby Championship, with its 'Aratipu' report due before the board by the end of the week.

"We would essentially set up our satellite programme, which is here in south Auckland, to accommodate a second team," says Atiga.

"So we are not talking about one team that plays in the MLR, and then they come and play in Super Rugby. We are talking about two pro teams that would have equally competitive athletes at that level, and we would own and operate them in coordination with each other."

Former All Blacks and Wallabies skills coach Mick Byrne would be head coach, with former All Black Tamati Ellison as assistant coach.

Credit to RNZ for the story.