Cancer survivor Manu eyes RWC spot for Tonga

Nasi Manu (Gallo Images)
Nasi Manu (Gallo Images)

Wellington - Cancer survivor Nasi Manu says he wants to cap an inspirational Test comeback with an appearance for Tonga at this year's Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Rugby was the last thing on Manu's mind when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in late 2018 and spent much of this year undergoing chemotherapy.

The back-row forward missed the entire PRO14 season for Italian club Benetton Treviso as he battled the disease.

But Manu, who co-captained the Highlanders to the 2015 Super Rugby title, was named this week in Tonga's 31-man squad for the Pacific Nations Cup.

The 30-year-old said it was a major step in the goal he set during rehabilitation of making the World Cup.

"Going through cancer and chemo has been a great sort of awakening for what I really want and my rugby goals, my life goals - I sort of narrowed down what's important to me," he told the official PRO14 website.

"It's always been a dream to compete on the world stage, to play in a World Cup. The dream is still alive to maybe achieve that this year."

Tonga coach Toutai Kefu said he always believed in Manu and kept him in his Test squad plans.

"He's always been high in our thoughts and he's a quality player," Kefu told Radio New Zealand.

"He was never going to miss selection but due to illness, he had to have a break for a while."

Tonga open their Pacific Nations Cup against Samoa in Apia on July 27.

The Pacific islanders have been drawn in a tough group at the World Cup that includes England, France, Argentina and USA.

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