Manu ready for Test battle, say Kiwis - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Manu ready for Test battle, say Kiwis

By Guy Hand 03/05/2010 05:23:27 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney is confident Sika Manu's Test selection is no risk despite the Melbourne forward having only played 60 minutes of rugby league in the past 10 months.

Manu, who made his return from a badly broken leg in Melbourne's NSW Cup team at the weekend, has been rushed into the Kiwi Test squad to play Australia in Melbourne on Friday night.

The forward has not played in the NRL at all this season, and his 60-minute spell for the Storm's reserves against Auckland Vulcans was his first hitout since he shattered his leg in July last year.

But Kearney, also a Storm assistant coach, knows just how well Manu is going having watched his recovery at close quarters.

And he has earmarked Manu as a vital cog off the interchange bench because of his versatility as New Zealand prepare to field a side weakened by injuries.

"Sika can cover a couple of positions - he can play out wide, he can play through the middle, as a front rower and as a ruck forward also," Kearney told AAP.

"Given it's international rules in terms of 12 interchanges it works really well for him and I don't have to leave him out there for extended periods.

"From a coaching and selecting point of view I've been watching Sika closely for the last couple of weeks and I know what he's capable of us, what he can do for us.

"He got a medical clearance from the (Storm) staff the other day - he's got a medical clearance from our staff today.

"He's fit and healthy and ready to go."

New Zealand and Storm teammate Adam Blair also has no doubt Manu can play a role, revealing he could have played for the Storm's NRL side in the past two matches.

"He's been training with us for about a month now at the Storm and even at training he's been running some good lines," Blair said.

"It (his NRL return) should have come a couple of weeks ago but they decided to keep training him and get him a bit fitter.

"He's going to be the impact player we need off the bench.

"Even if he gives us 15 minutes, it's going to be a solid 15 minutes. When times are tough, those are the guys you need to come on."

With seven regular internationals unavailable for the Kiwis, Manu helps bolster a squad featuring three debutants - Brisbane utility Alex Glenn, Warriors hooker Aaron Heremaia and Newcastle backrower Zeb Taia.

The New Zealand squad assembled in Melbourne on Monday and had their first look at the venue for the match, AAMI Park.

The Test will be the debut event at the 30,000-capacity venue, which is hastily having the finishing touches put on it ahead of the match.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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