Promising young Manly hooker Manase Fainu has more than impressed Sea Eagles captain Daly Cherry-Evans after just five weeks of pre-season training.
“We have started doing some work with the halves and hookers, and Manase has been standing out, especially his physicality,’’ Cherry-Evans said.
“He is an extremely powerful athlete for such a young kid.
Fainu, who played 28 matches for Manly in the Holden Cup this season, won the Club’s Best and Fairest award for that grade.
At just 19, Fainu will again play a vital role for Manly’s Jersey Flegg (formely NYC) team in 2018.
However, Cherry-Evans feels that Fainu could also handle the transition to playing against more seasoned campaigners in the NSW Intrust Super Premiership and the NRL should the opportunities arise.
“Manase has all the ability and if he continues to work hard on his game, then hopefully first grade is not far away for him,’’ Cherry-Evans said.
“He is only going to get better and better as the pre-season progresses and he has a great mentor in (first grade hooker) Api Koroisau.
“Manase is the sort of person who is willing to learn and is not afraid to ask questions which is very important in young kids coming through.
“The natural progression for Manase is to go up to Intrust. I don’t know what Trent Barrett’s plans are with him, but I certainly think he will be able to handle it.”
Manly prop Addin Fonua-Blake said he had felt Fainu’s ability to hit hard in defence.
“For his size, he is just like Api. That is exactly what we need, the smaller blokes giving it their all,’’ Fonua-Blake said.
“It means that if it came down to the crunch, he is not going to shy away from the contact and put his body on the line for the team.”