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Samu Manoa's agent, Nick Robinson, has confirmed that the popular Northampton forward will play for the USA this summer, although what games he will play in cannot be confirmed, in part because Eagle Head Coach Mike Tolkin has yet to name his team.
Manoa has enjoyed a hugely successful second season at the Northampton Saints in the Aviva Premiership, capping it off with a Supporters Player of the Year award. The hard-hitting lock/loose forward is a crowd favorite, and will start for the Saints this weekend in their Premiership semifinal against Chris Wyles and Saracens.
Win or lose, Manoa won’t be done. He has been selected for the Barbarians – the famous compilation side that brings star players from around the world to play exhibition matches.
So if Northampton wins their semifinal, Manoa and the Saints will be at Twickenham in the Premiership final on May 25. If they lose, he could play for the “Baa-Baas” against England, also at Twickenham.
Then after that Manoa will be off with the Barbarians to play the British & Irish Lions June 1 in Hong Kong.
"Samu is really looking forward to playing for the Eagles this summer, he still has the Premiership playoffs and Barbarians v British Lions in Hong Kong to play,” said Robinson.
The selection to the Barbarians is just reward for Manoa’s outstanding performance this year – one that saw many up in arms when he wasn’t on the short list for league Player of the Year.
Robinson says that while Manoa’s physical abilities are obvious, it’s his approach to the game that makes him special.
“He applies himself,” said Robinson. “His mental approach and his work ethic are phenomenal. The greatest part of his game is in his head.”
After the Barbarians game, Manoa will be flying straight from Hong Kong to join up with the Eagles squad in Houston ahead of the Ireland game on June 8.
Taking a quick break from his training ahead of the playoff semifinals at current Premiership champions Saracens on Saturday, Samu said "[I] can't wait to link up with the boys again, and get back into the Eagles jersey."
Manoa, who was first spotted by Robinson three years ago playing in for the USA squad against a Saracens team, will be back with the Eagles for the first time since 2010. Robinson, who also represents players such as England flyhalf and current Premiership Golden Boot, Freddie Burns, has been looking at a couple of other players from the Bay Area.
"There are some exciting young players coming up through the ranks over in the San Francisco area," he said, noting University of California standout Danny Barrett, who Robinson described as being “a great athlete, an imposing and physical back row, with a powerful fend and a strong running game.”
He also continues to work with SFGG center/wing Otusia Toupouata, who played in the Hayward U19 system before trying football at the University of Utah.
Toupouata has an injured shoulder at present, but the speedy, athletic, 6-4, 270-lb back has immense potential and his physical attributes have pro clubs interested. If he is able to secure a start with the USA, he would be well-placed to get a contract in the UK.
If he hadn’t been injured, said Robinson, “he would, without doubt, have been playing professional rugby in Europe next season. If he can get himself fit again next season he has enough raw potential to develop into one of the most dangerous outside backs in the Premiership"