Auckland’s Mount Smart Stadium has been confirmed as the home venue for Moana Pasifika, a new Super Rugby franchise that will make its debut in the competition next year.

The deal with Auckland Limited, the region’s economic and cultural agency, will run from 2022 to 2028 and provides Moana Pasifika with a training ground base as well as a home stadium.

Moana Pasifika patron, Tuifa’asisina Sir Bryan Williams, said that while New Zealand will be the team’s base for the foreseeable future, its long-term aim is to establish roots in the Pacific islands.

“As the competition evolves and subject to international borders being open, our intention is to play games in Samoa and Tonga and expand our presence across our Moana,” he said.

“To grow the game in the Pacific, we need to inspire our young players from an early age. They’ll see their heroes run out on the field in Moana Pasifika colours and believe that they can be just like them when they grow up.”

Super Rugby already one has Auckland-based team, the Blues, which play at Eden Park. The Chiefs are also based in nearby Hamilton and play home games at Waikato Stadium.

On Mount Smart Stadium, Williams added: “We’ve worked extremely hard to get to this point, and to have a sense of home and place to continue building our unique brand in the world’s most competitive professional competition is huge.

“It’s not lost on us that Mt Smart/Rarotonga has been the home of the (NRL’s) Warriors since 1995 when they too began their journey as a start-up franchise. It’s a real privilege and honour to be welcomed into this iconic sports facility and share space with a team that has forged a special place in our sporting landscape and in the hearts and minds of so many.

“We know that our community of supporters know this venue well, and we know they will bring intense passion, colour and energy when they come out in numbers to support their team. We can’t wait to welcome fans to our new home.”

The new Super Rugby season will begin in February. Moana Pasifika has been backed by New Zealand Rugby and the team will join the Fijian Drua as one of two new Pacific Island teams.

From next year, Super Rugby will not feature teams from Japan and Australia, and will instead be made up entirely of clubs based in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Image: greenishseal/CC BY 2.0/Edited for size