M’au: Fonua helped me join

It’s fair to say that Manu Ma’u had a certain reputation in the NRL, which the former Parramatta Eels star lived up to in every way.

Dubbed the ‘Scariest player in the NRL’ he is certainly no shrinking violet; his well-earned nickname of the Tongan Terminator only adds to the perception of this genuine superstar.

Now he has arrived in Super League, determined to prove himself again, to a new audience, in what is sure to be an exciting season.

So how has the deceptively soft-spoken star settled in?

“I’ve settled in alright, enjoying it so far, the boys have been welcoming and my family has settled in well.”

How has he got used to being the major, star signing, amongst a host of quality arrivals?

“I don’t really like the limelight on me.

“Arriving with people like Ligi Sao and Mahe Fonua has definitely helped, so I can just concentrate on my footy.”

It was well documented, at the time his capture was announced, that his Tongan teammate Mahe Fonua was telling most people that he was the reason that Ma’u signed, is that true?

With a knowing grin, he said: “Actually, he had a hand in it. I was texting him back and forth, while I was trying to make my decision.

“Actually, I was texting him all the time, I was wanting to know what the club was like, how did he think I’d find it?

“How did he find it, the transition here? I just wanted to know all that, before I put pen to paper. I talked to my wife, spoke to a few more people about coming over.”

Hull FC got their season off to the perfect start with a win at Leeds. Credit: News Images

How did the move come about, especially with other interest in the NRL?

“I couldn’t see myself playing for another NRL team.

“Hull FC came knocking, as soon as they did, I decided I would talk to my wife, and see how she would feel about the transition moving over to the UK.”

How big of a deal is Super League seen as down under now?

“It’s definitely a very big deal, there’s a few NRL players coming over now, and hopefully it will suit the way we play the game.”

What about the metal in his face, how did that come about?

“It was in an international game, against Samoa.

“I went into a tackle, and James Gavet, who’s at Huddersfield now, tried to step off his left foot and the right side of my face hit his knee, and it shattered straight away.

“Straight away, I knew it was broken, I could feel the bone behind my eye, so I went off and told the trainers, I had scans and my eye socket and cheek bone was all broken.”

How much has soon to be 39-year-old Gareth Ellis impressed the new arrival?

“He’s a model professional. I haven’t seen someone prepare for training, as much as Gareth does.

“The way he carries himself, the way he trains, he’s just an ultimate athlete. I used to watch him play for Wests Tigers and would just be in awe of the way he plays and the toughness.

“I think he got Player of the Year, every year he played for Wests Tigers, he’s just an amazing player.”

Has he been briefed about what a Hull Derby is like?

“No, everyone’s just said it’s a great rivalry. They said it’s hard to explain, you’ve just got to experience it. I don’t know what I’m walking into.”

Which part of his Super League experience is he most looking forward to?

“I’ll be interested to see how the new guys go, especially the NRL players and, of course Sonny Bill Williams.

Would he be prepared to play for the Exiles against England if the opportunity arose?

“I used to watch the Exiles games back in the day.

“I think it would be a great idea if they brought it back, I would be very happy to play for the Exiles against England, definitely.”

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