Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

First Take: Manu shows how to lead

Nasi Manu of the Highlanders is tackled during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.
Nasi Manu of the Highlanders is tackled during the round 14 Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Highlanders at Westpac Stadium. Photo / Getty Images.

Hurricanes 16
Highlanders 18

Nasi Manu is at long odds to ever make an All Black side.

But everything admired about those players who push others all the way to that honour of the black jersey, is embodied by the Highlanders captain.

Read: Hurricanes upset by Highlanders

He is a warrior leader, someone prepared to go back into the trenches even when he is wounded, a No 8 who chases, runs and tackles while his mind and body are questioning his sense.

Several times Manu went down with shoulder problems but he did not want to leave the battle. The Highlanders had lost enough men before the clash and Manu had to lead the resistance fight.

His example was massive for the visitors as they soaked up the Hurricanes onslaught and stayed in the contest deep into the final quarter until referee Jaco Peyper whistled their victory tune.

We knew a team starting with H would win and suspected there would be casualties. Eventually the Highlanders claimed the victory while the medics worked overtime to sort out the wounded.

The main concern for the Canes and the national selectors was the damage suffered to ribs and a knee by Beauden Barrett. The brains trust in each group would also wonder how the Canes, with double the All Black camp invitees of their rivals, failed to get the result.

Ticker, heart, courage, will-they all shone through the Highlanders' work. Their season-long graft has been such a contrast to the flaky work in 2013 in a campaign when Manu suffered an early serious injury.

- NZ Herald

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