- Publish Date
- Tuesday, 21 July 2020, 3:10PM
Super Rugby's first Pacific Island team is gaining traction and could be based in South Auckland.
A consortium of former All Blacks – including Jerome Kaino, Joe Rokocoko, John Afoa, Benson Stanley, Anthony Tuitavake and Ben Atiga – are in the ownership group 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 New Zealand Rugby about joining a revamped Super Rugby competition.
Kanaloa Hawaii chief executive Tracy Atiga says the team would be separate from the one playing in the US and would be based in South Auckland.
"We would essentially set up our satellite programme which is here in South Auckland to accommodate a second team," Atiga told RNZ.
"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 co-ordination with each other."
Two-time World Cup winner Kaino said the impact of a Pacific team would be huge.
"Creating an even playing field for Polynesians and Māori to get on the world stage, and the impact you have on the people back home is enormous," Kaino said.
"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."
NZ Rugby is currently reassessing the future make up of Super Rugby and the Rugby Championship, with its 'Aratipu' report due to go to the board by the end of the week.
Kanaloa Hawaii have named former All Blacks and Wallabies skills coach Mick Bryne as head coach and former All Black Tamati Ellison as assistant coach.
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission