CARL Manu says it "means so much" to don the Hunter Wildfires jersey and just seven months after suffering a broken arm he will be leading the first XV when Shute Shield gets underway this weekend.
Manu, who turned 38 over Easter, has been named captain of the Wildfires as they prepare to meet Sydney University away in Saturday's season opener.
The two-time Anderson Medal winner, best and fairest in the NHRU competition, was selected to skipper the Hunter representative side by coach Scott Coleman.
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"It means so much. Going down to Sydney we're like an outside team coming in. But we've put in the work and we've been big on what it means for Newcastle," Manu said.
"We're starting something from scratch and hopefully it builds so that kids who want to play Shute Shield in the future can stay here."
Manu, who has recently been coaching at Hunter Sports High School, said he was initially surprised when asked to take on the role with "a lot of other leaders in the team".
Round one will mark Manu's return having gone down in just his third hit out last year, shortly after the Wildfires re-entered Shute Shield from a two-decade absence.
"It was a bit unfortunate, but it was also an eye opener. I never thought I was done, I wanted to keep going. As soon as I heard we were playing again I was 100 percent in," the former Waratahs and Maitland player said.
Hunter's game-day squad was expected to be finalised at training on Tuesday night before being officially unveiled at Friday's season launch.
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