Deacon Manu

Meet the new Head Coach of Dragons Rugby Club:
Deacon Manu 
(Fiji Captain 2011 RWC) 


We are delighted to introduce our new club Head Coach Deacon Manu. Not only has he played and captained Fiji in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, and played for the Welsh regional team Scarletts, he has a wealth of coaching experience. We know he will be a great asset for our club and we are excited to have him on board.

A short interview below will give you a good insight into Deacon’s values, beliefs and coaching philosophy.
You are a Fijian rugby legend and your senior career is well known, but briefly describe your involvement in rugby from an early age.

I actually didn't start playing rugby till later on in my life. I used to play golf as a chosen sport up to the age of 16. When I was 16 a lot of friends encouraged me to play rugby because I was a lot bigger than most of the kids for my age. so I would play a round of golf in the morning and then finish rugby at 12 o'clock to play for the school.

It wasn't until I was 17 years of age that I made the school first 15 team, which I was encouraged by school friends at Francis Douglas Memorial College. There have been notable all Blacks and super rugby players after my time at the school. More notably beauden Barrett and Conrad Smith.

It wasn't until I was 19 years old and I made my first representative side (Waikato U19). One of the key messages for younger players today from My experience is that you don't need to make all the NAG to be successful later on in your rugby career.

What makes a good rugby coach?

What makes a good rugby coach is the same as any other industry and it starts with a good plan and communication. What also makes a good coach is your adaptability to change a plan according to the situation. Making sure that your always learning is a key character of a good coach. In terms of development of a good coach and the continuation of their development, it is important to have an open mind about new innovations. Also the sharing of ideas with like minded coaches, in which Wayne Smith is an advocate. To be a good coach you need good communication and a sound understanding of the technical and tactical aspects of your chosen industry. This is important in professional sport but also any other job where you work with people.

Describe the people or coaches that have inspired your love of rugby and how did they achieve this?

I have been fortunate enough to be coached by six ALL BLACK coaches and four additional international coaches during my playing career. One thing that stood out was the ability to get the best out of all their players. They were all very good technically but they also installed a belief in the players that gave individual players confidence and also gave the team confidence.

Can you give me an example of a specific incident in rugby (growing up) where you learned a valuable lesson?

One specific valuable lesson at school was when we played a side with several X factor players that were all bigger faster stronger and older than individuals in our team. I learnt that Working as a unit and team can stop any individual no matter how good they were. Also The idea of never giving up is an important message, when you get knocked down get back up and keep going.

Do you have a story, anecdote, or incident which best exemplifies the spirit of rugby?

There are many stories that I can think of that exemplifies the spirit of rugby. I think that any given Saturday watching a game of rugby you can see the true spirit of the game. Whether it is helping a teammate off the ground, shaking hands of the opposition after going toe to toe with them for 80 minutes and/or the respect players give the referee, there are so many great examples of the spirit of rugby that are on showcase in any week During the season.

What does it feel like to captain ones country?

It is a privilege and an honour to Captain your country and something that shouldn't be taken lightly. There is always pressure when you play at an international level and the spotlight is really focused on you when you are a captain as you are the leader of the team. The great thing about rugby is that it is a team sport and making sure you are focusing on your individual role in the team is a key component of being a captain. Being captain you carry the flag for your country with you and the support that you are given in Fiji is amazing. people in Fiji have so little but they give so much and it was a humbling experience to be leading the team into the 2011 rugby World Cup.

Who was your most feared opponent? 

There wasn't a rugby player that was feared in any team that we went up against. I think this is mainly because we were focused on how we can achieve our team goals and would only focus on the team we would play.There are certainly individuals that we were aware of through the analysis that we do. But together as a team we looked to nullify these players through tactics and technical work and by working as a team.

Who do you believe has been the most naturally gifted rugby footballer of your generation? 

I have been fortunate to be in company with some exceptionally talented rugby players. It is hard to narrow it down to one player with exceptional talent but playing along side Jonah Lomu he definitely fits the bill. This is because he wasn't the most gifted in the football field but he change the game of rugby single-handedly through his power, pace and Grace throughout his career.

Team sports v individual sports – is one better than the other?

There is no doubt team sports builds a lot more skills and teamwork than individual sports. In most areas of life today you are dealing with different people and different personalities in which you need people to work together to reach a common goal. Team sports cannot be underestimated terms of the power and positive influence it can bring to children and adults of all ages.

What does rugby teach you about life?

Rugby teaches you that when you are knocked down you need to get back up. This taught me to be humble in victory and gracious in defeat. It also give me the ability to to set a goal and to work towards it as a team, knowing that individuals need each other to reach a goal.

If you have any questions or comments please contact Deacon on