'Natural leader' Christian Leali'ifano to captain Moana Pasifika

Christian Leali'ifano will lead Moana Pasifika against the Wellington Hurricanes tonight at Wellington Regional Stadium.

The former Wallaby and Brumbie's captain takes charge of Moana Pasifika's leadership role following the injury of Sekope Kepu in Friday's 37-17 loss to the Highlanders.

"I'm really excited for Christian, he's a very natural leader," said Moana Pasifika Assistant Coach Filo Tiatia.

"We have total confidence around how he leads, particularly off the field and what he brings on field.

"He's a captain at the highest level, he was a captain of the Brumbies and also had a bit of a leadership role in the Wallabies."

Known among his mates as 'Nu', Leali'ifano is one of the most respected and inspirational players in rugby.

In 2016, he was diagnosed with Leukaemia, a cancer of blood forming tissue. He underwent two rounds of chemotherapy and received marrow transplant from his sister.

Despite the medical challenges, he recovered and continued his rugby career, going on to represent Australia at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

"He has done a lot of things that a lot of normal people haven't gone through", said Tiatia.

"I'm just getting chills from what Nu shared with myself, and just the beautiful understanding of what he brings to life which is another gift for our young athletes, that we are in a really privileged position.

"We have total confidence around how he leads, particularly off the field and what he brings on field, on the ground just around cohesion, calmness, being very clear on when he needs to talk."

Moana Pasifika struggles with discipline

Penalties marred Moana Pasifka's performance against the Highlanders last Friday. The team lost two players to yellow cards and conceded a whopping 16 penalties.

The frustrating performance was reflected in half-back Eratara Enari in a post-game presser where he lamented the defeat.

"We want to be winning games", said Enari.

"It's experience at this level, at Super Rugby pace. The more games we get, the more exposure we get to this level and I think we'll be able to take away those penalties."

Moana Pasifika's loss to the Highlanders is the team's third consecutive defeat since they recorded their first Super Rugby victory against the Hurricanes three weeks ago.

Tonight they face an improved Hurricanes team who have since recorded two victories against the Highlanders (24-17) and the Auckland Blues (33-32)

"Discipline is the biggest area that we need to keep on improving on," said Tiatia.

"If we can balance out penalties and get an even playing field, than we're in the game. We really got to be disciplined around what Moana Pasifika stand for and giving away unnecessary penalties away is not our standing point."

The game between Moana Pasifika and the Hurricanes kicks off at 7.05pm New Zealand time.