WHEN you witness the sheer size of Manase Havealeta, there’s plenty of obvious rugby qualities the ginormous Tongan dubbed ‘Nasty’ brings to Orange Emus in this year’s Blowes Clothing Cup.
But, physical attributes aside, what most probably don’t see is the big prop’s influence on Emus off the field.
“Sometimes when we train hard, everyone is tired and I make a joke ... and then we focus back on training and nothing is going to be hard for us,” the 24-year-old said with a smile, a welcome addition to Emus First XV ahead of Saturday’s clash with Narromine at Endeavour Oval.
“We’re doing really well in the tournament right now, we’re just trying to win the comp.”
And, if Emus are to do just as Havealeta says and win the 2014 Blowes Clothing Cup, coach Andrew Logan is adamant it’ll have plenty to do with his import’s infectious enthusiasm.
“More than anything, Nas is a guy who enjoys his rugby,” Logan said.
“The boys enjoy having him around and the vibe he adds to the squad is fantastic.
“He doesn’t say much but when he does speak the boys listen ... he’s a big man with a strong opinion.”
WATCH OUR BLOWES CLOTHING CUP ROUND 17 PREVIEW VIDEO:
Havealeta played rugby league in Wollongong last winter before making the move back to rugby union in 2014, landing at Endeavour Oval and smashing the club from wooden spooners to within an inch of top spot on this year’s ladder.
Both Emus and Roos are locked on 66 points atop of the Blowes Clothing Cup.
But, tellingly with Roos to face Cowra and Mudgee in the final two weeks, the Dubbo club enjoys top billing courtesy of one extra win overall.
Not satisfied with second place, Havealeta knows his side’s clash with cross-town rivals Orange City in a week’s time will prove pivotal in Emus’ quest for a minor premiership.
“Next week, against Orange City, they’re a good team. They’re last year’s champion and we just going to try our best, work hard, and look forward to that game. It’s going to be a good game,” he said, desperate to make an impact up front for Emus.
“That’s my mission for the team, scrum better, run hard and defend hard.
“Narromine’s a good team, too. We’ve got to win this game ... that’s all we’ve got to do now, just win. Keep on winning,”
Brent Braithwaite is being rested this weekend, while inside centre Simon Badgery is also being given the week off.
No.8 Rob Thorburn suffered a ear laceration, requiring 12 stitches, against Mudgee and will miss tomorrow’s clash with the Gorillas.
Havealeta, Shane Udy and Tim Alison replace the missing trio.
“We’re a good squad. The boys are doing good. I just came back from injury and hopefully we’re going to make it (to the grand final), that’s our goal for the rest of this season,” Havealeta said.
Emus face the Gorillas from 3.15pm on Saturday.
ORANGE EMUS: 1 Nas Havealeta, 2 Tom Goolagong, 3 Matt Findlay, 4 Nick Hughes-Clapp, 5 Sam McLean, 6 Andrew Cosgrove, 7 Alo Finau, 8 Shane Udy , 9 TJ Cunynghame, 10 Adam Perri, 11 Carter Hirini, 12 Tim Alison, 13 Nigel Staniforth (c), 14 Tom Green, 15 Sam Ryan.