Aaron Mauger upset by lack of ‘respect’

Moana Pasifika coach Aaron Mauger is upset that his players found out on social media that their Round 10 clash with the Western Force was postponed due to a Covid outbreak in the Perth-based side’s camp.

the Super Rugby Pacific newcomers have endured a tricky start to life in the competition, with this being their fourth game of the season postponed due to the virus.

Adding to a busy schedule

Postponements put pressure on the playing schedule as Mauger’s men played six games in 23 days earlier this season.

Mauger is disappointed in how late his team found out and the manner in which they did.

“We’re disappointed we found out so late,” Mauger told Stuff. “It’s less than ideal from the Force. Nobody got in touch to let us know a couple of days ago they had cases. That’s what we’ve done the whole way through… it wouldn’t have taken much to pick up the phone, and say, ‘we could be in trouble this weekend, just letting you know’.”

The 41-year-old questioned how many cases the Western Force had in their squad, as earlier this season, they fielded a team with a significant number of players unavailable.

“I don’t know their exact numbers {with the Force], but I do know we fielded a team with 22 Covid cases, which included (scrum-half) Dwayne Polataivao coming in and meeting Ere Enari on the morning of the first game against the Blues to go through the playbook, then Joe Royal turned up for our walk-through two hours before the game,” he said.

“Those guys both made their debut that night. That’s what we were prepared to do, what we had to do, to make the game go ahead.”

Mauger feels his side was not shown “respect” in the entire saga and believes they deserve to be treated better given all the sacrifices made.

“It’s about making sure we’re treated with respect through the process,” he said. “That’s probably the key thing, especially after all the sacrifices and commitment we’ve made to ensure our games have gone ahead.

“But we’ll get on with it. It’s all you can do. We’ll use it as an opportunity to freshen up, and have a full week leading into the Rebels in Melbourne.”

Force chief executive officer Tony Lewis claimed the number of affected players to be too great to field a team.

“We have made every effort possible to assist in making this game go ahead. Despite looking at multiple replacement options, the number of players affected is simply too great,” said Lewis.

Mauger feels his side will prevail despite the circumstances and stick to their core to tackle the hurdle.

“We’ve been here before. We still came in last night before dinner to give thanks, sing our sing, and get our energy up. It’s the beauty of our culture,” he added. “We have those things that really anchor us when we’re going through these challenges.

“There have been so many through this campaign. I’m just extremely proud of how the boys are fronting up. We’re trying to help our guys become good professionals in the most challenging conditions you could ask for. We’ve got stronger men, a lot more mature men than the guys who walked through the door three months ago, and the wraparound support from our staff has been outstanding.”

The former All Black believes that his side has developed quicker than expected and is on the right track in the competition’s inaugural season.

“We’re ahead of where I thought we’d be at this time in our journey,” said Mauger. “We’ve had some big scorelines, but only a couple of critical parts of the game hurt us.

“We’re performing well in a lot of areas, and once we sharpen up our set piece so we can build more pressure that way, we’ll be even better. Our lineout maul defense has been attacked, but on the whole our defense has been good. Coping with the intensity of the game has been challenging, and that’s led to a bit of discipline, so you’re defending more of those mauls.”

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