Guinness PRO12: Edinburgh sign Nasi Manu from Highlanders

Number eight will become the third New Zealander to swap the south island for the Scottish capital when he moves in the summer

Nasi Manu will join Edinburgh Rugby on a two-year-contract at the end of the Super Rugby season.

The 26-year-old number eight, who can also play flanker, will be the third Highlanders player to move to the Scottish capital, following Ben Atiga’s move in 2012, and Phil Burleigh’s arrival last summer.

I know when the time comes to go it’s going to be tough…I’m excited to be heading to Edinburgh and taking up a new challenge in my career.

Nasi Manu on his move to Edinburgh later this year

Manu joined the Highlanders from Crusaders in 2010, making 53 appearances to date, and has shared the Highlanders captaincy with All Blacks back Ben Smith for the last two seasons, as well as enjoying a spell as vice-captain at Canterbury.

The forward, known as Nacho, admitted it was a difficult to leave the Highanders, but he is looking forward to a new challenge in the Guinness PRO12 when he swaps Dunedin, the Edinburgh of the South, for the original Edinburgh.

“Believe me it was a very hard decision to leave the Highlanders, my team-mates, my friends and family,” Manu said.

“This place, this team, it gets under your skin, becomes part of you, and I will always treasure my time here.

“Obviously I want to go out on a good note, and I am keen to finish off my time here really successfully, and that’s my focus at the moment.

“I know when the time comes to go it’s going to be tough.

“We have built such a great environment here; a lot of players have come down and played their best rugby with the Highlanders.

“I think it’s because we are all pretty close, a lot of us aren’t from here, but they adopt you pretty quick in this place.

“It’s a great town to live and work in, a village really, and that’s what I love about it.

“I’m excited to be heading to Edinburgh and taking up a new challenge in my career.

“My partner and I are looking forward to living in Scotland and learning more about the history and culture.”

As well as Burleigh, Manu counts Scotland internationals Grayson Hart and Sean Maitland as former team-mates from his time in the New Zealand U20s side in 2008.

Nacho has been one of our key players for a number of years, a fearless player and inspiring leader…we know he will take some of the Highlander spirit with him as he goes.

Highlanders head coach Jamie Joseph on Nasi Manu

Manu has already tasted success in the UK and Ireland, as part of the New Zealnad U19 side at the 2007 Junior World Championship in Ireland and 2008 U20 side that defeated Ireland and Wales en route to the Junior World Championship final that the Baby Blacks won 38-3 against England in Swansea.

He made his Super Rugby debut in 2008 with the Crusaders at the age of 19, making 12 appearances as the the franchise won the title.

The powerful forward has also enjoyed success at club level, winning the ITM Cup six times between 2008 and 2013 with Canterbury, while becoming an integral part of the Highlanders outfit since his franchise move south in 2010.

“Nacho has been one of our key players for a number of years, a fearless player and inspiring leader,” said Highlanders head coach Jamie Jospeh.

“We often refer to family when talking about the team, and he has been an invaluable member of that family, we all wish him the best for his time in Scotland.

“We know he will take some of the Highlander spirit with him as he goes.”

Edinburgh have also confirmed that New Zealand duo Jade Te Rure and Hugh Blake have extended their deals until the end of the season.

Back-row forward Blake, who was called up to Vern Cotter’s Scotland squad ahead of the Six Nations, will join rivals Glasgow Warriors as cover until the end of the season.

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