Super Rugby Pacific: Aaron Mauger to step down as Moana Pasifika head coach

David Skippers
Aaron Mauger Moana Pasifika head coach SRP 2022 - PA.jpg

Moana Pasifika will have a new head coach in 2024 after Aaron Mauger confirmed that he will step down from the position at the conclusion of the current Super Rugby Pacific campaign.

Despite losing all 12 of their matches so far this season, Mauger said family and not Moana Pasifika’s results is the reason behind his decision to resign.

The 42-year-old former All Blacks centre, who has been Moana’s head coach since they were established ahead of last year’s inaugural Super Rugby Pacific tournament, said he will take a break from the game and spend time with his family before deciding what he wants to do next.

Staying on for last two fixtures

The former Highlanders and Leicester Tigers boss will remain with Moana for their last two matches of the league phase of the competition, against the Fijian Drua and Waratahs in Lautoka and Sydney, respectively.

“I love this team immensely and it has been an absolute privilege to be a part of this special journey for Moana Pasifika and broader movement for the Pasifika community,” said Mauger.

“I have given everything for the cause in testing conditions, but it’s now time for me to return home to my family and give my best back to Amy and my four beautiful children.

“There are some great people within the club, and I hope these gems can be retained to bring continuity to the further development of the club.”

He also thanked the loyal Moana community for their unwavering support and positive encouragement.

“Your spirit and support have been hugely uplifting for the team in challenging conditions,” added Mauger. “Keep the faith and ride the waves with the team, they acknowledge and play for you every week!”

Moana Pasifika chairman Sir Michael Jones paid tribute to Mauger for his contribution to the franchise during his two-year stint as head coach.

“We accept Aaron’s resignation and understand his decision to prioritise his family,” he said. “We thank him for his dedicated work as head coach.

“Both in establishing the rugby management team from its inception and developing a roster of largely inexperienced players, with half the team having never played in a Super Rugby match prior to joining Moana Pasifika.

“This accomplishment is especially notable considering the disruptions posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent storm weeks last year, and a tough 2023 season. Aaron’s unwavering professionalism throughout his time with Moana Pasifika in steering our waka has been commendable.”

Jones also acknowledged Mauger’s role in nurturing and developing the team.

“Under Aaron’s leadership, we have witnessed the growth and progress of our Pasifika players,” he said. “His commitment to fostering their skills at a professional level has had significant impact and helped to unearth real talent.

“Last year, 27 Moana Pasifika players went on to represent their Pacific home nation, 13 in the ‘Ikale Tahi and 14 in Manu Samoa squads, for the Pacific Nations Cup (PNC) in 2022.”

Moana Pasifika to continue fostering talent

Jones also expressed Moana Pasifika board’s determination to continue fostering talent and providing opportunities for up-and-coming Pasifika players.

“We remain committed to our mission of providing professional pathways for Pasifika people and continuing to nurture and develop players,” he added. “We are truly grateful for Aaron’s passion, hard work and professionalism during his tenure with Moana Pasifika.

“We wish him all the best in his future endeavours, and we are confident that the strong foundation he has helped build will continue to move us forward.”

Moana Pasifika will now begin the process of searching for a new head coach to lead them during the 2024 Super Rugby campaign.

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