Fam­ily proud of rugby star’s de­but

South Waikato News - - Your Paper, Your Place - TA­MARA THORN

A young Toko­roa rugby league star had plenty of sup­port when he made his de­but in Auck­land re­cently.

When Jospeh Manu rang his fam­ily to tell them of his New Zealand de­but on June 19 they were ex­tremely pleased.

‘‘We were all so stoked, so ex­cited,’’ said mother Dar­nel.

Joseph Manu has played for the Sydney Roost­ers for three years leav­ing be­hind his fam­ily and his home town Toko­roa to pur­sue his dream.

So when his fam­ily found out he was headed home for his New Zealand de­but they loaded up a bus full of sup­port­ers and headed up.

The sup­porter’s bus took 60 peo­ple to Auck­land while another 60 were wait­ing to sup­port Manu at Mt Smart Sta­dium.

All sup­port­ers were wear­ing t-shirts that had Joseph Manu #5 on the back and Live It Up on the front in re­spect for his un­cle who died at Christ­mas.

‘‘His un­cle was right into Nike and his say­ing was ‘live it up nephew’,’’ Dar­nel said.

They ar­rived just five min­utes be­fore kick off, so Dar­nel said she was stress­ing out telling peo­ple on the bus ‘‘you bet­ter not make me miss my sons de­but’’.

Through­out the game she said ‘‘I felt like I played the game with him’’.

‘‘We were just so proud and he was just so calm and ready for the ex­pe­ri­ence.’’

Dar­nel said the Mount Smart man­ager ap­proached the Toko­roa crowd af­ter the game and said he’d never seen a de­but like this one.

Manu might now be play­ing for the NRL, but he’s told his mother that it didn’t make him a celebrity and he didn’t want to be treated any dif­fer­ently.

‘‘He is still very grounded,’’ she said.

Dar­nel said she was felt proud watch­ing her son out there and match­ing other play­ers like Shaun Kenny-dowall and Jared Waerea-har­g­reaves and be­ing at their level.

‘‘Its like he had that con­fi­dence about him­self and he de­served to be there, and he is good enough,’’ she said.

In a Face­book post Manu said it was a dream come true to play in the NRL.

‘‘But to do it in front of my fam­ily is a whole lot more spe­cial,’’ he wrote. ‘‘I loved ev­ery mo­ment of it. Thank you all was so over­whelm­ing with all the sup­port this whole week. Live It Up.’’

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