Exciting winger Tumua Manu has more than seized his chance of playing for the Blues. He’s played four Super Rugby games and has scored a try in three of those games.
Tumua, who stands 1.83m and 97kgs, is a former Samoan age representative who decided to try his chances in New Zealand Rugby in 2015. He played for College Rifles club that year but at the end of the season he suffered an ACL injury and spent most of 2016 on the sideline in rehabilitation.
He returned to play for the club in 2017 and impressed sufficiently to get a call-up to the Auckland side in the Mitre 10 Cup, where the midfield/winger forced his way into the starting line-up.
Auckland Rugby Academy HP Manager, Ben Meyer spoke to Blues GM High Performance Tony Hanks about Manu’s abilities, with the 25-year-old called in pre-season to the Blues. That led to an extension into the New Year, playing in the pre-season game against the Chiefs and a part of the winning Blues side at the Brisbane Global Tens.
The injury to Sonny Bill Williams saw Manu’s time at the Blues extended by a further two months and then further extended for the rest of the season to cover the injury to Tamati Tua.
His hard work and strong running impressed coach Tana Umaga who gave Manu his chance as a replacement on the wing against Otago, scoring a try on debut.
“At first it was hard having a whole year out with injury. But it was amazing to be called into the Blues for pre-season. And then to play against the Chiefs and then to the 10s where we won was just amazing,” Manu said.
“I am learning so much at the Blues and the boys are great.
“When I got selected to play against the Highlanders I was so excited – over the moon. I called my parents back in Apia and told them. They were so happy – and then they had to find out how to watch the game as Super Rugby is not live on TV in Samoa.”
It led to Manu being named to start on the left wing against the Jaguares, where he again scored a try in that close loss. Tumua was moved to the right wing where he had to mark 125kg Fijian winger Taqele Naiyaravoro.
“He was huge so I had to focus on how I can defend him. I didn’t go straight to him because he was so big. I tried to push him to the sideline and then tackled him from the side.”
And of course Manu scored his third try in as many games – a brilliant team try sparked by a break from Stephen Perofeta and great pass from Matt Duffie.
“Three games and three tries, that is so exciting. This is like a dream come true for me. I did not expect it to happen. It has always been my dream from very young to play for the Blues in Super Rugby.”