Nu’u keen to make impact with Stags

Southland wants to take control of the narrative this year and shake the tag of valiant loser.

Ray Nu’u is very keen to sign a contract with a Super Rugby team.

Those two goals are in perfect alignment.

Nu’u is in his third year with the Stags and shapes as the key back in the line-up.

The 22-year-old is a product of that Canterbury factory which has churned out a few decent players during the years.

He honed his skills at centre for St Andrew’s College and featured in Canterbury age-group sides before linking up with the Crusaders Academy.

He had a bad injury in 2017 and popped up at the Stags in 2018. He made his debut against Wellington that year.

Then he followed his partner, nurse Maddie Foster, to Dunedin and helped Green Island reach the semifinals of the premier grade last year.

This year he went even better with Invercargill club Woodlands. It blitzed Star 83-31 in the final.

Nu’u’s ability to punch holes in the midfield or weave his way into space resulted in his callup to the Highlanders as a replacement player prior to Covid-19’s arrival in New Zealand.

Signing a fulltime contract with a Super Rugby team is near the top of his bucket list.

"For me I’m just taking it step by step but signing with a Super Rugby team for next year is one of my goals," he said.

"Earlier in the year I got asked to join the Landers and was with them right up until Covid hit.

"That was a big eye-opener for me. It was pretty awesome."

It has certainly ignited a fire and Nu’u is hoping a strong Mitre 10 Cup campaign will get him noticed.

Sickness has limited the impact he has been able to make in the first two weeks.

Southland has surprised with its form. It upset Hawke’s Bay 16-10 and came close to tipping up Bay of Plenty in Rotorua on the weekend.

The Stags lost 17-14 but gained respect with they way they played.

Nu’u missed the opening game as he was battling the flu. But he came on as a replacement for Jaye Thompson and made a positive impact against the Steamers.

"Big ups to Dale [MacLeod, Southland coach] and the way he has taken on the role of head coach," Nu’u said.

"Comparing this year to the last two years there is a way better energy. This year it is all about building our own legacy," he said in reference to the Stags’ recent struggles.

The side snapped a 27-game losing streak with a 42-14 victory over Counties Manukau in Invercargill last year.

While Southland has started 2020 well, it has another big challenge in Invercargill today.

North Harbour is stinging from two disappointing losses. But the premier side has a big forward pack and an exciting back three.

"I’m expecting them to kind of attack from anywhere. They have a dangerous threat out back in Shaun Stevenson.

"He is one guy we will be looking at. Bryn Gatland will put them in the right spots in the park.

"We’ve just got to be aware of their threats and stay connected."


Mitre 10 Cup

Invercargill, 4.35pm today
Southland: Josh Moorby, Amanaki 
Nicole, Isaac Te Tamaki, Ray Nu’u, 
Rory van Vugt, Scott Eade, Logan 
Crowley, Tony Lamborn, Matt James, 
Charles Alaimalo, Mike McKee, 
Manaaki Selby-Rickit, Siate Tokolahi, 
Greg Pleasants-Tate, Ethan de Groot. 
Reserves: Jason Rutledge, Joe Walsh, 
Chris Apoua, Ray Tatafu, Glenn 
Preston, Liam Howley, Greg Dyer, 
Tevita Latu. 
North Harbour (possible): Shaun 
Stevenson, Ngarohi McGarvey-Black, 
 Asaeli Tikoirotuma, James Little, 
Walter Fifita, Bryn Gatland, Lewis 
Gjaltema, Lotu Inisi, Tim Sail, Ethan 
Roots, Jacob Pierce, Gerard Cowley-
Tuioti, Sione Mafileo, Luteru Tolai, Nic 
Mayhew. Reserves: Zane Turner, 
Teague McElroy, Jimmy Roots, Xavier 
Cowley-Tuioti, Murphy Taramai, Brad 
McNaughten, Antonio Mikaele-Tu’u, 
Kade Banks.


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