USA lock/loose forward Samu Manoa has not been named in the 36-man squad for the two August Canada tests, and it appears he will not be in the World Cup squad, despite strong form this past year.
According to multiple sources, Manoa has essentially agreed to forgo the World Cup in order to solidify his position with his new pro club, Northampton.
Contract clauses that prevent players from being available for national team play are not allowed by the IRB, but there are ways around that. According to Paul Keeler, who coached Manoa with the SFGG club, Manoa has a incentives in his contract that pay off if he starts 20 games. Northampton plays seven Aviva Premiership matches during the World Cup, and if Manoa started all of them, he would be well on his way toward earning that incentive.
USA Head Coach Eddie O’Sullivan said only that he was disappointed Manoa will not be available, and that he only found out about his status recently. However it’s clear O’Sullivan is more than just a little displeased. Manoa broke into the National Team almost out of nowhere this past fall, but once he got capped – a key stepping stone for any player hoping to get a pro contract – he has not been seen in an Eagle assembly since.
Clearly O’Sullivan wanted Manoa to be on the Eagles squad, but told RUGBYMag.com he is moving on without the powerful forward.
For his part, Manoa did not immediately reply to efforts to reach him, but it seems clear he has an excellent chance to solidify his status with Northampton by choosing the Saints over the Eagles.