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Thursday, March 02, 2006

Tongan Manu trades controller for chinstrap

The third and final in the series on Polynesian football players chronicles the path of Moses Manu of Kansas State whose family is representative of many Tongan and Samoan families which is often vast and varied over space and time. Manu's roots are in rugby which is the dominant sport in the Southern Hemisphere and which some in the US feel could be a source of future football players. In all likelihood American football will never become established in places such as Samoa and Tonga because of the colonial legacy of British sports and their links to Commonwealth nations New Zealand and Australia. However, in American Samoa football continues to develop and is now being played at both the varsity and junior varsity level on the island of Tutuila.



Tongan Manu trades controller for chinstrap

Dennis Dodd
By Dennis Dodd
CBS SportsLine.com Senior Writer
Tell Dennis your opinion!





Part 1 | Part 2

Third in a three-part series on the impact of Polynesian players on American football.

MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Moses Manu destroys the American ideal.

Embarrasses the image of the plucky U.S. athlete.

Moses Manu chases an opposing quarterback last season at El Camino. (El Camino College)
Moses Manu chases an opposing quarterback last season at El Camino. (El Camino College)
Motivation is not a problem for the Kansas State defensive end in a culture snowed by the Bode Miller ethic.

Try this for a fast track: Manu earned himself a major-college football scholarship last month after taking up the game as a high school senior. That, after first learning football through a two-week crash course at home playing Madden 2003.

"I just got into it," Manu said this week, about half a world away from his native Tonga. "I got good at the game. I knew everything. I knew what a first down was. I knew routes, quick slants, curls."

And football isn't even his favorite sport. Manu grew up playing rugby in New Zealand and Australia. After moving with his family from Sydney to Los Angeles three years ago, Manu scoured the Internet for a rugby team to join.

He found the prestigious Santa Monica Rugby Club, hopped on his bike and began pedaling from his home in Inglewood.

Through L.A. traffic, mind you.

"It took me 1½ hours," he said. "I missed the game so much. I took a street directory with me and stopped every half hour to check. When I told the coach what I did, he was surprised."


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