Manawatu¯’s new sign­ing

Manawatu Guardian - - FRONT PAGE - By MERANIA KARAURIA

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

PHOTO / MERANIA KARAURIA

James Tofa is thank­ful for his de­ci­sion to re­turn to the Manawatu¯ this year.

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