Manu gives up his All Black ambitions to play for Tonga

Nasi Manu
Nasi Manu
Former Highlanders No 8 and co-captain Nasi Manu has given up on his All Black career and will turn out for Tonga this weekend.

Manu, who turns 30 in August, will be part of the Tonga side which will play in the Pacific Nations Cup, which kicks off in Fiji on Saturday.

Manu, who left the Highlanders after their title win in 2015, is playing for the Treviso club in Italy.

He played for Edinburgh in two injury-riddled seasons before moving to Italy at the start of the 2017-18 northern season.Manu was born in New Zealand of Tongan parents.

The No 8, who played first-class rugby for Canterbury shortly after leaving school and before he had played club rugby,  played for New Zealand age-group sides but could never crack the top national side.

He was often asked if he would go and play for Tonga when he was playing in New Zealand, but always had a burning ambition to turn out for the All Blacks.

But with Kieran Read cemented in the No 8 spot for the All Blacks and others such as Liam Messam also in the picture, Manu never got a look-in for the national jersey.

The No 8 was outstanding for the Highlanders in the last couple of years he was at the franchise. He was badly missed in the 2013 season when he was injured in the first game and never played again that year.

But he was appointed co-captain with Ben Smith the following year.

He played every game in 2014 for the Highlanders and missed four games in 2015 because of injury mid-season, before coming back for the finals series and leading the team — along with Smith — to the title.

Manu has now decided to play for Tonga and will be an asset for the side, which has already qualified for next year’s World Cup in Japan.

Manu is not the only former Highlanders in the Tongan side for the Pacific Nations Cup.

Centre Siale Piutau will captain the side and he will also be joined by prop Siua Halanukonuka and veteran lock Joe Tuineau in the side.

Fiji, Samoa and Georgia are the other three sides competing in the Pacific Nations Cup, with all games played over the next two weekends at ANZ National Stadium in Suva.

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