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Nasi Manu | Rugby World Cup Recap

Mark Jackman

Posted on November 13 2019

Nasi Manu | Rugby World Cup Recap

By: Annabelle Tukia
13 November 2019

Stacked Co-Founder Nasi Manu: “It was always a dream to play on the biggest stage rugby has to offer” The 2019 World Cup is now over but it’s an experience Tongan loose forward Nasi Manu will treasure for the rest of his life. After battling back from a cancer diagnosis and treatment last year to representing his country on World rugby’s biggest stage. We sat down with the 31 year old to talk about what motivates him and what a typical day is like.

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“To represent my country and family and all those people that have helped me along the way… to get to the World Cup is a massive dream.”
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Nasi you’ve just returned to Italy after playing for Tonga at the Rugby World Cup in Japan – what were the three top things about taking part in that Playing for Tonga is always an honour “to represent my country and family and all those people that have helped me along the way… to get to the world cup is a massive dream” and “as a smaller second tier nation having the opportunity to play against teams like England, France, Argentina and the USA was awesome, although it would have been nice to tip over one of the bigger teams!” The organisation of the tournament was another highlight “the Japanese were great hosts, very organised, I loved it and I’d definitely like to go back.”

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"The team started every meeting with a hymn, spiritual; reading, verse and prayer. On game days and Sundays our pastor would lead us, otherwise everyone took turns throughout the World cup campaign.”

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What did a typical day look like for you at the World Cup? Our day starts before Breakfast with “activation which is stretching, mobilising and foam rolling as well as strapping” then we’d have breakfast before heading to a team meeting. The team started every meeting with a hymn, spiritual; reading, verse and prayer. “On game days and Sundays our pastor would lead us, otherwise everyone took turns throughout the World cup campaign.” We would take two buses to team trainings, which would roughly last for 2 hours, then boys could work on individual skills followed by recovery sessions. We’d then have lunch and the afternoon was set aside for weights sessions and split into our units, then it was dinner time, we usually had the rest of the night off. On days off we would have a team activity organized in the morning and mini teams competing against each other doing various challenges for team bonding which was really funny.

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“All in all my experience in Japan, I loved it, the culture and the people are very polite.”

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 Nasi Manu Rugby

 

What are some of things you did on your days off? We had one day off each week and that was usually a Wednesday or a Thursday. I really immersed myself in the food culture in Japan “it was really great getting to experience a lot of different food, as a team we got to try two different all you can eat Yakiniku restaurants (Japanese BBQ) and with the amount we ate i'm surprised we didn't put them out of business. I would consider myself to be a big eater but in this team I had just just an average appetite." One of the funnier activities we took part in was an “amazing race where we got to experience doing a traditional Japanese dance while wearing the costume.” I was lucky enough to have my wife and daughter come to visit so we tried to do as much exploring in each city we were in. “In Osaka I also got to see Universal studios with my wife and Nadia who’s 2 loved going on all the rides.” “All in all my experience in Japan, I loved it, the culture and the people very polite.”

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"As a team we got to try two different  all you can eat Yakiniku restaurants (Japanese BBQ) and with the amount we ate i'm surprised we didn't put them out of business."

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One thing you would bring from Japan into your everyday life? The respect, for me obviously I wouldn’t bow to people in Italy or at home in New Zealand “but the manner the Japanese people have is so respectful of others. It is something I would like to take back and try to have that manner with everyone around me, that respect is pretty cool.”

 

What are some of the differences playing for Tonga than the teams you have played before? For me playing for Tonga is unlike any other team I have been in. “We’ve been bought up in the same culture, with the same values around our families. So much of our family time is spent reminiscing about old stories with a cup of tea and toast, we call it ti ma, staying up until the early hours of the morning, pretty much living the old days again, who’s family is who, basically gossiping.” Sometimes it felt like I was at Christmas gathering with my family and not at the World Cup.

 

What does it mean for you to play for Tonga? What it means for me to represent my country starts with my grandparents, “I think of Kotisi and Mele Manu, Samuel and Api, my grandparents who moved to New Zealand for a better future for their kids.” For me being able to pull on the red jersey “I get to run out and represent such a big family, all started with my grandparents vision to get a better life and more opportunities for their kids and grandkids.” Also my family “my Wife and Nadia, I get to represent them, this World Cup was a bit more special because of the year we had as a family, it’s a massive blessing to play for my country at the World Cup.”

 

Nasi Manu - Tonga Rugby

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