Despite suffering a 47-point loss to the Chiefs which saw them remain winless in 2022, Moana Pasifika should feel encouraged by the performance of veteran Christian Leali’ifano.
The 34-year-old Australian was one of the best on ground in Saturday’s defeat, finding Neria Foma’i with a beautiful skip pass for the side’s opening try and creating numerous scoring opportunities throughout the match.
Former All Black Pita Alatini is excited with what the fly-half can bring in his first season with the team considering his 15 years as a professional.
“He brings a lot to the table, experience and he’s been there before,” he said on SENZ's Pacific Flair.
“He’s played Test rugby; he’s played over 100 games for the Brumbies.
“It’s awesome to have a guy of that class.”
Alatini believes that Lincoln McClutchie and other the other young fly-halves on the squad can learn from Leali’ifano and spell him when he comes to the bench during games.
“They just need to learn off him and feed off him and then be able to get the right timings of when he comes on, when he comes off and still have some impact,” he said.
In addition to his years of experience, Leali’ifano is a cancer survivor who overcame the odds to return to the game.
Alatini is confident that his battle can translate to the rest of the playing group and they too can fight the way he had to.
“His story is pretty amazing, so there’s a lot to take heart from that and a comeback from something that was pretty devastating,” he added.
“He fought it and he’s come back and played first class rugby, for the guys coming back thinking about a fight, thinking about how to keep getting better and to challenge themselves.
“I think it’s great.”
Moana Pasifika will face the Hurricanes at Mount Smart Stadium on Friday as they look to enter the winners' circle for the first time in 2022.