23 July 2017

Salford may throw winger Manu Vatuvei straight into Challenge Cup semi-final

MANU Vatuvei wants another reason to be wiping his eyes – helping Salford to Wembley.

The former New Zealand winger admits he is still getting over jet lag after arriving at the Red Devils.

New Salford winger Manu Vatuvei could make his debut in a Challenge Cup semi-final

But he may make his debut in their biggest game for 19 years, next Sunday’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan.

And he already knows the importance of the upcoming clash, even though he has only been in England for four days.

Vatuvei, 31, said: “I’ve heard the Challenge Cup is massive over here, and that the club hasn’t been to Wembley since 1969.

“It would be an honour for myself to be a part of it, but right now I just have to concentrate on getting myself right and getting over the jet lag!

Vatuvei had a glittering career at New Zealand Warriors

“I was keen and excited to play on Friday, but that wasn’t to happen and I’ve just got to go with the flow.”

Vatuvei, who is set to play for Tonga at the World Cup, was given an emotional farewell haka by his now former New Zealand Warriors team-mates before heading to Salford.

But he admits he is among plenty of friends over here, including some he may face at Warrington next week – and hopes to make more by what he does in training and in games.

As he waits for his wife and four children, who will head across at the end of the year, he added: “On Thursday, I travelled to Huddersfield to see Sam Rapira and Ukuma Ta’ai.

Manu Vatuvei goes over the line
Vatuvei was a star for New Zealand but is set to play for Tonga at the World Cup

“At Wigan, there’s Tommy Leuluai and Sam Tomkins, plus Patrick Ah Van at Widnes. Here there’s Junior Sa’u and Lama Tasi.

“It’s made my trip over here easier because the boys are not too far away.

“It will be hard being so far away from my family but the boys have been really welcoming and have made things easier for myself.

“I had my first session on Thursday and it’s a case of getting myself into the system and understanding the game plan.

“I’m just trying to fit in, and the boys have been so welcoming since the first day I got here. That’s been awesome.”

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