Kanaloa Hawai'i plan to build team around Pasifika roots

Kanaloa Hawai'i have no intention of filling their ranks with veterans as they prepare for life in Major League Rugby next season and will instead look to develop the cream of talent from the Pacific Islands, the team's general manager told Reuters.

The team, backed by a group of former All Blacks of Pacific Island heritage, were given provisional approval on Friday to join MLR, which cancelled much of its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and saw its team in Colorado disband.

Kanaloa Hawai'i management have set a minimum 25% quota for Hawaii'an players and General Manager Cam Kilgour said he expected the rest of the squad would be young Pasifika players.

"I don't want to manage a rest home. We aren't looking for players coming towards the end of their contracts," he said. "The best talent in the world comes from the Pacific but no-one is developing it.

"We want to get the young guys at 20 or 21 who are just starting out and we are going to develop them with the best coaches and high performance plans we have."

Former All Black Joe Rokocoko, a member of the consortium group backing the side, joined New Zealand's Sky Sport's The Breakdown on Tuesday night and backed up Kilgour's sentiment, stating the club is aiming to provide young Pasifika players another opportunity.

"Our main focus is more for the guys who are wanting to start off their careers overseas, it's for that generation of guys that have just missed out on academy," Rokocoko said.

"It's for the guys who missed out on the Auckland academy or all the franchises back home and just giving them an extra chance. We want to focus on more development of the younger generation."

Providing a more comfortable environment for players who may find it difficult overseas due to a cultural divide is also essential for the team.

"We've been talking about finding ways trying to help our Pacific brothers and sisters who are playing overseas or playing back home, to provide another opportunity to be involved in a club where they can be comfortable and be themselves and have people on board who understand what they go through each day or what they go through in their daily lives."

The team will not just focus on south Pacific players, with Kilgour adding the team would draw on the strong club and schools rugby competitions in Hawaii and that he also wanted to bring overseas-based Hawai'ian players home.

"The talent and depth of rugby players in Hawaii is untapped," said Kilgour.

"The big issue for me is that Hawai'ians playing around the world come home and play in front of their families. "We really want to get our Hawai'ians back home and playing for us."