Exciting young Manly Warringah Sea Eagles five-eighth Latu Fainu doesn’t have to look far when it comes to wanting to take his game to the next level.
Latu has played a huge role in Manly’s undefeated minor premiership run to the Harold Matthews Grand Final and is arguably the premier player in the U17s competition.
And he is doing this all at the age of 15.
A player with tremendous vision, creativity, and skills, Latu is certainly part of the next crop of talented youngsters coming through the very successful Sea Eagles Pathways program.
However, for all the well-deserved accolades Latu is receiving, there is also a very focused, determined, mature young teenager who knows what goals he wants to achieve.
He also credits his older brother in Manase, the former half turn Manly hooker, for helping him develop his game.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can. Manase and I spend plenty of time watching rugby league videos, and in particular, on Daly Cherry-Evans,’’ Latu said.
Daly is my idol. I like to watch how he plays and I try to bring a few things from his game into mine.Latu Fainu
“I’ve met Daly through Manase and he has told me to just to lead more. To talk to my players and to control things.
“Manase has certainly given me some good advice. He is like another coach for me.”
The advice has certainly been working as Latu has been lethal throughout the season with his dynamic running and passing game bringing plenty of rewards for his outside backs.
One of those in particular has been prolific try scoring centre in captain Josh Feledy, who has crossed for an incredible 19 tries in nine games for Manly.
In the 40-0 win over Newcastle at Cessnock, Latu had a hand in all of Feledy’s six tries. He threw the final pass for five of the tries with the other try coming from a grubber kick from Latu.
Latu has also scored four tries himself, including a vital one-on-one steal against Wests in last week’s Grand Final qualifier that swung the momentum back Manly’s way.
It was an important play and ended the Magpies’ halt after Wests scored back-to-back tries in quick succession early in the first half.
“Latu is a freak. He makes me look so good,’’ Feledy confessed.
When told of Josh’s praise, Latu downplayed his role. For him, it’s all about the team.
“Josh just hits perfect holes for me. Whatever is in front of him, he calls the play and we just do the rest from there,’’ said a humble Fainu.
“He just knows where to be. Josh is a fine captain and he always leads by example.”
Sea Eagles Coach Adam McEwan said Latu had many wonderful attributes about him.
“Latu has got a bit of everything. He has got toughness, he is not afraid to roll the sleeves up, and he has a very good kicking game.
“The thing about Latu is that he puts himself within the vicinity of the ball to make a difference.
“He has got fantastic skills, he reads the game well, and his competitive spirit shines brightly.”
And as for Saturday’s Grand Final against Parramatta Eels at Leichhardt Oval, Latu is just taking it in his stride.
“It is going to be a great clash. It always is against Parramatta. We will just have to stick to our plays and listen to Adam,’’ Fainu said.
“We wouldn’t be where we are without Adam as our coach. He knows what he is talking about and all of the boys enjoy playing for him.
"We are very grateful to have him.”
Many of Latu’s team-mates would say the same thing, too, about the kid in the number six jersey.
Harold Matthews Cup Grand Final
Manly vs Parramatta
Saturday, May 1, Leichhardt Oval, 1pm
Entry: $5 adults with children 12 and under free.
The Grand Final will be live streamed on the NSWRL FaceBook page