Atunaisa Moli (born 12 June 1995) is a New Zealand rugby union player who currently plays as a Prop for Waikato in New Zealand's domestic Mitre 10 Cup, the Chiefs in the international Super Rugby competition, and for the All Blacks national team.
|Full name||Atunaisa Moli|
|Date of birth||12 June 1995|
|Place of birth||Gisborne, New Zealand|
|Height||189 cm (6 ft 2 in)|
|Weight||127 kg (280 lb; 20 st 0 lb)|
|School||Marlborough Boys' College|
|University||University of Waikato|
|Rugby union career|
Starting his career as a Tighthead Prop, Moli converted to Loosehead Prop during his professional career. Moli made his debut for New Zealand in 2017, earned a re-call in 2019 after a spell of injury and subsequently made their team for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Moli was born in the northern New Zealand town of Gisborne, but did his secondary education on New Zealand's South Island, attending Marlborough Boys' College in Blenheim. While attending secondary school, he represented Marlborough at under-16 and Tasman at under-18 level before moving to Waikato after graduation and representing them at under-19 level.
Moli debuted for Waikato during the 2015 ITM Cup in a match against Tasman on 14 August 2015 after starring as a school boy. Hindered by a foot injury, he only played 6 games during his first season of provincial level rugby, 2 of which were from the start. 2016 again saw him make 6 appearances, this time however, they were all from the start as he began to make the number 1 jersey his own.
After just 6 games at provincial level, Moli made the Chiefs Super Rugby squad for the 2016 Super Rugby season, debuting in a match against the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth. A season-ending injury to Nepo Laulala meant that he received more game time during his debut season than he might have otherwise expected, playing 10 times and scoring 1 try. He was retained in the squad for 2017.
Moli missed the whole 2018 Super Rugby season due to a leg injury. He forced his way back into the first-choice team during the 2019 Super Rugby season, establishing himself as one of the Chiefs' best performers during the season.
Moli represented New Zealand Schools in 2013 and was a member of the New Zealand Under 20 teams which competed in the 2014 and 2015 World Rugby Under 20 Championships. He appeared 5 times as New Zealand finished 3rd in 2014 and made another 5 appearances, this time as captain as the Kiwis lifted the title in 2015 with a 21-16 victory over England in the final.
Moli was selected to be an non-playing "Apprentice" in the All Blacks for the 2017 Rugby Championship. Moli is the third New Zealander to be selected for the All Blacks as an apprentice, following team mates Ardie Savea who was an apprentice in 2013 and Jordie Barrett who held that title in 2016. After injuries to Joe Moody and Owen Franks, the All Blacks coaches had to seek more depth in the end-of-year tour. This meant that after starting in a 31-22 loss against the All Blacks for the Barbarians coached by Robbie Deans on 4 November, Moli joined the All Blacks squad again, making his debut for New Zealand against a French XV 10 days later, replacing Tim Perry with 23 minutes left. Moli was one of six players to make their All Blacks debut in the 28-23 win.
In 2019, Moli was re-selected to the All Blacks team, named to play Argentina in the Investec Rugby Championship Test at Jose Amalfitani Stadium (Estadio Velez Sarsfield) in Buenos Aires on Saturday 20 July. He made his test debut in the 60th minute of the game, replacing Ofa Tu'ungafasi. With experienced props, Karl Tu'inukuafe and Owen Franks, axed from the team, Moli also earned an appearance off the bench against Australia during a 26-47 loss.
On 28 August 2019, Moli was picked for the All Blacks 2019 Rugby World Cup squad, by New Zealand Head Coach, Steve Hansen. Moli earned his first start for the All Blacks in New Zealand's 63-0 win over Canada, lasting the whole 80 minutes of the test.
New Zealand Under-20
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- "Chiefs sign New Zealand Under-20s captain Atu Moli on two-year deal". Stuff.co.nz. 25 August 2015. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
- "Chiefs 2017 Squad Guide" (PDF). All Blacks.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Atu Moli Chiefs Player Profile". Chiefs Rugby. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Atu Moli #1168". All Blacks. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
- "Chiefs prop Atu Moli riding the wave in his first season of Super Rugby". Rugby Heaven. 16 July 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "NZU20 squad named for IRB JWC2014". All Blacks.com. 23 April 2014. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "NZ Under 20 squad named for World Champs in Italy". All Blacks.com. 12 May 2015. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "2013 NZ Schools team named". All Blacks.com. 16 September 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2016. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "Atu Moli New Zealand Under 20 Player Profile". All Blacks.com. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
- "All Blacks deny Argentina famous victory in Buenos Aires to win Rugby Championship opener". TVNZ. Retrieved 21 July 2019.