Star Trek Guide

NRL: Hull home for Eels' former Kiwis forward Manu Ma'u

Tongan test forward Manu Ma'u is reversing the player migration trend by moving from to English Super League club Hull FC.

The 30-year-old Parramatta player's switch for the 2020 season was confirmed on the same day the Canberra Raiders announced Wigan halfback George Williams would be their fifth English acquisition.

Auckland-born Ma'u - dubbed the Tongan Terminator - played six tests for the Kiwis in 2016 before switching his allegiance to Tonga for the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Ma'u's England move caps his rugby league rehabilitation, which has seen him bounce back from a 22-month stint in a New Zealand jail as a teenager after a vicious street brawl to play 104 NRL games for the Eels.

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On release in 2009, he played for the Warriors' feeder team, the Auckland Vulcans, in the New South Wales Cup, but could not get an Australian entry visa for away games.

Ma'u, who now has nine caps for Tonga, was eventually granted a visa in 2013 and signed for Parramatta's reserve grade team, the Wentworthville Magpies, before making his NRL debut with the Eels in 2014.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald in his first season there that he wanted to "repay Parramatta for their faith".

"I want to build a future. I want my partner Alisi and my kids to be proud of me and I want my family to realise I'm not that naughty boy that caused them pain."

Mau' has certainly achieved his aim - becoming an Eels regular and earning the respect of his NRL rivals.

Now he is joining Hull on a two-year contract with Hull chief executive James Clark describing him as "not just a statement signing for Hull FC, but also for Super League".

Hull head coach Lee Radford said: "To get that level of player in our competition, at the peak of his career is a real coup for the club. I've only heard good things about him on and off the field."

Ma'u said in a statement on Hull's website that he spoke to the Tongan teammate and former Hull wing Mahe Fonua before confirming Humberside would be his next home.

"I keep up with Mahe Fonua from my time playing for Tonga, as well as [former Tonga captain] Sika Manu and Bureta Faraimo who I know too, and they couldn't speak highly enough about the club. That made me only more eager to join the club.

"It's taken a couple of months to get over the line.

"My manager [former Kiwi Tyran Smith] kept telling there was interest from the club so it took me a bit of time to make the decision, speaking to my wife and family to think about what was best for me. 

"Having a young family with a wife and three kids, it was important they were happy with the decision, and they were. We're all thrilled."

Ma'u said it would help having some familiar faces at Hull to ease his transition.

"There are a lot great Polynesian players in Super League at the moment, and all the ones I"ve spoken to only have great things to say about the competition."

Ma'u said he wanted to "go out with a bang" at Parramatta and "ultimately win the competition", but "the plan is to be lifting trophies for Hull" next year.

"I've always believed in wearing your jersey with passion and pride. You put your body on the line for whatever team you're representing, and I can't wait for that to be in black and white."