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Northampton crushed Castres 45-0 Sunday in European Cup action, behind a Man-of-the-Match effort from American No. 8 Samu Manoa.
Playing No. 8 for the second week in a row, Manoa has emerged as a monstrous force for the Saints, and led the club in a gritty performance.
“I’m happy to be at eight,” Manoa told RUGBYMag.com before the game. “I get to run the ball more. But I told the coaches, man, you can put me anywhere I’ll play for you. I don’t care.”
The 6-5 American is an easily-recognized figure in the 1,400-year-old town of 200,000, and performances like Sunday will only improve his standing among fans.
“Some people you’ll hear them talking ‘Oh that’s Samu, he plays for the Saints,’ and others will come up to you while you’re in line at the store and say ‘good game.’ I get a lot of ‘we’re really happy you’ve joined the Saints,’ stuff like that. It’s good feedback from the fans,” he explained.
He knows the fans are watching.
“Like my dad says, ‘you got to take care of yourself, practice hard, and play hard and hit hard. Everybody’s watching you, so you got to go hard.”
The Saints got two tries from Ben Foden, and tries from Vasily Artemyev (set up from a Manoa run and pass) Mikey Haywood and Greig Tonks. Steve Myler added four conversions and four penalties.
Northampton improves to 1-3 in the Heineken Cup Pool 1. They will not make the knockout rounds, but the result is a big shot in the arm for the club.
Video from Manoa's pre-European Cup interview with the club.