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Obviously the USA could use the hard-hitting, athletic, and versatile forward. And playing internationally should help Manoa, too. His cachet as a player, his status as a draw for fans, and his grow as a player who wants to play against and prove himself again top competition would all get a boost by playing for the Eagles.
RUGBYMag.com spoke with Manoa about this very issue on Monday.
“If they pick me or put me on the roster, then most likely I will be playing in the summer,” Manoa said. “I probably won’t play every game. I would love to be in the mix.”
Manoa said he thinks some critics have it wrong about his motivations.
“There’s just a lot of talk going on; people saying I’m turning my back on
the Eagles. I never turned my back on the Eagles. I just had to do what I
had to do. I put my family first. But I want to put on that jersey again
and play for the national team,” he said. “I would love to play for the
Eagles, no doubt.”
RUGBYMag.com also asked USA Head Coach Mike Tolkin about Manoa, and Tolkin was very enthusiastic about having him available.
“I think,” said Tolkin, “that Samu deserves his time in the sun. Playing international rugby helps him do that.”
What could Manoa bring to the Eagles? Power. He is one of the hardest-hitting players in the Aviva Premiership. Versatility. He can play lock, blindside flank, or No. 8. Offense. He is slotting in the Saints backline more and more, and provides a potent running threat in open play and off the back of the scrum. Set Piece. He is a force in the scrum, and in the lineout. While the Eagles don't need help in the lineout, a little extra shove in the pack might help.