TONGA captain Sika Manu has thanked Hull FC for allowing him to miss a crucial Super League game in order to help fellow countrymen devastated by a fierce cyclone.
The experienced second-row is back in East Yorkshire preparing for Friday’s visit from Warrington Wolves having sat out Saturday’s defeat at Castleford Tigers.
Manu featured in both games on the Airlie Birds’ mini-tour of Australia but did not fly back with his team-mates, instead making the short trip to his native Tonga.
There, thousands of homes and community buildings had been ravaged by the recent natural disaster and the 31-year-old was keen to aid the recovery programme.
“It was really great to get into the community and help out my home country,” said Manu, whose Tonga side and fanatical rugby supporters brought so much colour to last year’s World Cup, narrowly missing out to England in the semi-finals.
“Tonga was hit extremely badly by a Category 4 cyclone last week, so I was grateful Hull gave me the opportunity to be back with my people. A lot of houses were destroyed because the power of the cyclone had taken the roofs off the buildings, so that gives you an idea of the damage caused.
“Tonga was hit extremely badly by a Category 4 cyclone last week, so I was grateful Hull gave me the opportunity to be back with my people.Hull FC’s Sika Manu
“A lot of people lost their homes, but they’re still going about their business as if nothing had even happened.
“It’s remarkable really. They’re all out working to help rebuild the community and I was just there to play my part.
“I suppose I was lucky to be given permission to go back, because the club were low on numbers for the Castleford game after picking up a few injuries out in New South Wales, so I can’t thank them enough.”
Meanwhile, the sport saw its first coaching casualty of the new season yesterday with Leigh Centurions’ Neil Jukes quitting after just four games of the 2018 campaign.
He resigned following Sunday’s 32-26 home defeat to Toulouse, a third loss in four games back in the Championship since Leigh’s relegation from Super League.
Ex-Huddersfield Giants No2 Kieron Purtill will take over as caretaker coach with Paul Anderson acting as his assistant while the club advertises the position.
Jukes, 41, led Leigh to promotion in 2016 but could not prevent an immediate return to the second-tier. Ex-St Helens chief Keiron Cunningham was appointed Leigh head of rugby last August.