All Blacks recruit Atu Moli is a man on a mission after linking up with the Western Force as the Club’s pre-season commenced last week.
The tighthead/loosehead prop represented New Zealand five times between 2017 and 2019, including at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, but has been slowed by a variety of injuries over the past few years.
Moli, 28, is optimistic his best rugby is ahead of him given front rowers often hit their prime in their 30s. After eight years with the Hamilton-based Chiefs, Moli is also excited for a fresh start in Perth, which he views as “starting from scratch”.
“To be honest, I’d like to start from scratch and keep building from there,” Moli said.
“It’s just crazy coming back from these injuries, you can get to the All Blacks, it’ll humble you if you get injured and start back at the bottom, but I’m really keen to get back into it.”
Moli said, alongside the fresh start, he was attracted to WA by the prospect of working within the environment created by Force head coach Simon Cron and his support staff.
“I was fortunate to play with Chase (Tiatia), Feleti (Kaitu’u) and Campbell (Parata) in New Zealand, got to know them and started to talk to them about the club,” Moli said.
“They were enjoying it, so I thought I’d come and give it a go. Crono is a bit of a character. I’m definitely loving what he’s done with the Western Force and I’m just glad I’m here to be a part of it.
“It’s also good to have a change of scenery and have a different environment. I spent eight years in Hamilton, so it’s a good change for my family.”
Moli will be joined by his wife and 10-month-old son Sione-Piutau in Perth early in the new year.
For now, he’s adjusting to the change in climate from Hamilton to WA with a heatwave hitting Perth in his second week of pre-season, along with getting to know his new teammates and coaches.
Upon Moli’s signing in August, Cron said he was excited by the prop’s flexibility at loosehead and tighthead, along with his experience and leadership potential for the Force group.
In his younger years, Moli captained New Zealand’s Under-20 side to glory at the 2015 World Rugby Under-20 Championships.
“Everything that I’ve learned on the big stage, I’m keen to teach the young boys here,” he said.
“I hadn’t really shown my leadership back in New Zealand so I’m keen to do something about it here.”
Become a Force member today. The Force open their 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season on Friday 23 February 7pm against the Hurricanes at HBF Park.
The newly released 2024 Force playing jerseys, along with the Club’s 2024 merchandise range, are on sale now at the Club Store for $120 too, with Club Members entitled to 20% discounts on all merchandise.