Hull FC star and Tongan captain Sika Manu says he was happy to help his home country Tonga after a devastating cyclone hit the Pacific island last week.
The back-rower didn’t travel back from New South Wales with his fellow Black & Whites team mates, and instead made the short journey to Tonga.
The country had been hit by a devastating cyclone, which wiped out thousands of homes and community buildings.
Manu returned to Tonga to be with family and friends at such a distressing time, and he says he was simply happy to help his home country get back onto its feet.
He said: “It was really great to get into the community and help out my home country, and I can only thank those at Hull FC for giving me the chance to go back.
“A lot of houses were destroyed because the power of the cyclone had taken the roofs off the buildings, so that gives you an idea of the damage caused.
“Tonga was hit extremely badly by a Category 4 cyclone last week, so I was grateful that Hull gave me the opportunity to be back with my people.”
Manu captained the Tongan rugby league team to the semi-finals of the Rugby League World Cup last year, the nation that won the hearts of the rugby league globe courtesy of their attacking flair.
It wasn’t just the players on the field who caught the gaze of the average spectator. It was the Tongan supporters themselves that created the bouncing atmosphere at the World Cup
Home is a place that Manu holds close to his heart, with a unique passion for representing his native country.
And the 31-year-old admits that he was uplifted to see the positive spirits within the local community.
“A lot of people lost their homes, but they’re still going about their business as if nothing had even happened. It’s remarkable really,” he said.
“They’re all out working to help rebuild the community and I was just there to play my part last week.
“I suppose I was lucky to be given permission to go back, because the club were low on numbers for the Castleford game after picking up a few injuries out in New South Wales, so I can’t thank the club enough.”
A number of fundraising pages have been set up for people who wish to support the aid relief effort in Tonga and these can be found below.
The club will also be auctioning Manu’s one-off match worn shirt from the International Double Header fixture vs St George Illawarra Dragons, signed by the player, on their eBay page, with all the proceeds going to the fund.