Manawatu¯’s new signing
James Tofa’s rugby career moved up a notch when he signed with the Manawatu¯ Turbos for the 2018 season.
Two weekends ago James showed his prowess on the field when he scored five tries in a match for College Old Boys.
It was after the game that Turbos coaches Jeremy Cotter and Aaron Good approached James to offer him the contract that saw him turn professional.
“I was not expecting it this early,” said the 20-year-old who moved to the Manawatu¯ to be closer to his family in Levin. “It was a massive build-up over the years, with injuries, and then getting back into rugby.”
James says the two positions he plays have different attributes.
“There’s more space playing on the wing, a lot of running, and more contact at midfield.”
Fijian wing and centre Josua Tuisova, currently playing for Toulon in France, is the player James looks up to.
“He’s an exciting powerful runner . . . I play my own game, I stick to what I’m good at . . . running with the ball, a strong ball carrier. I love getting dirty.”
Not one to rest on his laurels, James said he learned hard work at an early age.
He’s been working as a labourer since returning to the Manawatu¯ and training up to three hours a day Monday to Friday.
Manawatu¯ Rugby Union (MRU) chief executive Shannon Paku said James’ signing was exciting.
“He has raw athleticism, the right attitude, and is very keen to keep learning. All attributes that will help him succeed in rugby.”
Born in Samoa, James’ family immigrated to Levin in 2007.
Family have a strong influence in his life, and a visit at Christmas was the catalyst for his move to the Manawatu¯ to be closer to home.
“It is probably the best decision I have made, I love it here.”
His high school years were at Horowhenua College where he started playing at first five-eight before shifting to the midfield and wing.
James completed his final year at Rotorua Boys’ High School and then moved south to Canterbury University for study.
The MRU said he played in the Canterbury Club competition where he was a standout for the University club and provincial sevens.
‘I was not expecting it this early. It was a massive build-up over the years, with injuries, and then getting back into rugby.’
James Tofa is thankful for his decision to return to the Manawatu¯ this year.