Rugby-Former Wallaby Lealiifano unveiled as Moana Pasifika's first signing

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - England v Australia - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 19, 2019 Australia's Christian Lealiifano scores a penalty REUTERS/Edgar Su

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Former Australia playmaker Christian Lealiifano has been named as expansion side Moana Pasifika's first signing for their maiden Super Rugby season in next year's Pacific competition.

New Zealand-born Lealiifano was capped 26 times for the Wallabies and featured at the 2019 World Cup in Japan after taking time out from the game to battle cancer.

"As someone who was raised a proud Samoan, there is massive appeal in playing for a team that celebrates my heritage, and my culture," the 34-year-old former ACT Brumbies stalwart said in a team release.

"I have been blessed with so many amazing opportunities over the course of my rugby career, that I feel I can give back to a special community that has always supported me regardless of what colour jersey I was wearing."

Lealiifano, who has been playing in Japan in recent seasons, will move to Auckland where Aaron Mauger's team will be based.

Moana Pasifika will be joined by Fijian Drua in the new 12-team Super Rugby Pacific competition featuring Australia and New Zealand's professional sides.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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