Seminar Manu's black-and-gold dream still burns
Seminar Manu has chucked on a few jerseys in his time, but the "real" one continues to elude him.
A member of the Wellington College first XV for three years, including the last as captain, the inside back played in every Wellington age-group team going, as well as the New Zealand Secondary Schools team of 2003 and the 2004-05 New Zealand under-19 sides. Wellington B beckoned after that, before the Southland Stags came calling.
Now back in Wellington, and turning in consistently good performances at first five-eighth for Old Boys-University, the 25-year-old has one rugby ambition left.
"It'll be awesome to pull on the real Wellington jersey," Manu said.
He went the right way about achieving that with a sound showing for City, against Suburbs, in the recent Wellington trial. Most of the Wellington team for this year's NPC campaign picks itself, but first-five does have a lottery look about it.
With Highlander Lima Sopoaga a late starter due to a shoulder injury, the likes of Manu, Wainuiomata's John Monu and Marist St Pat's veteran Fa'atonu Fili are among the candidates to play at No10 in his absence.
Manu is taking the "if it happens it happens" approach and instead ploughing most of his energy into his electrician's apprenticeship.
"I wouldn't mind playing for Wellington – the dream's still there," he said.
"But right now I have to concentrate on what's going to happen after rugby. When I have the mix right, and have things to do during the week, I seem to enjoy my rugby more and play better."
Manu was basically a fulltime rugby player during his time in Southland and found that hard. A bench player for much of it, he did at least enjoy the distinction of being a member of the Stags squad which lifted the Ranfurly Shield from Canterbury in 2009.
"It was the first time they'd won it in 50 years. Taking it off Canterbury was a big deal as well because they're so dominating," he said.
Manu missed OBU's 25-13 loss to Norths a week ago, but kicked a last-minute penalty from the sideline to sneak them past Poneke in the previous round. He's back in their lineup today for their clash with Upper Hutt at Maidstone Park.
The big interest, though, will be centred around the goings-on at the Hutt and Petone Recs, where either Hutt Old Boys Marist or MSP will be crowned Swindale Shield champions. HOBM will win if they beat third-placed Wainui, but if they lose and MSP get up over Petone it will be the Marist club from the city that collects the silverware. Elsewhere, Poneke play Ories, Norths host Rimutaka and Wests are at home to Tawa.
The Dominion Post