A Rugby League hero in the making
When Maneel Kumar was knocked down during a Rugby League match in January last year, he thought it would mean a temporary break from his favourite game.
He was shocked when doctors told him that he had broken three bones on his right leg, that a 50 cm titanium rod would be placed inside the limb and worse, that he will never be able to play Rugby League again.
Unlike others, the Full Back, who started his Ruby League career when he was 12 years old and played for the ‘Manurewa Malins,’ was taken aback but not shattered.
“I was determined to get back to the field. I exercised at home and practiced on my own. I got rid of the mental barrier and concentrated on my mission, which was to get better off the problem,” he said.
Call it a miracle or the fruit of his labour, Maneel returned to ‘Manurewa Malins’ about three months later. His performance stunned his peers, officials and in fact even spectators. “He is better and stronger than ever before,” they said.
As well as making it to the Auckland Team of the Rugby League, Maneel was selected to play for the International Fiji-Bati Under 20s on a tour of Australia.
He played and trained alongside New Zealand Rugby League superstars Jarred Hayne, Wes Nqauiama, Petero Civoniceva, Darryl Millard and Jone Wesale.
Maneel is justifiably proud that he was the only Indian selected to represent his native Fiji in Rugby League this year.
Ram Singh, one of his promoters, said, “I believe this is a huge achievement for a young man who was crippled just a few months ago. Rugby is usually associated with strong and skilful athletes of Polynesian and Maori origin. But Maneel is here to make a difference,” he said.
Maneel has won a number of Awards, including the Auckland Under 16s Championship for Manurewa and the Under 17s and Under 18s Championships for Otahuhu. He considers playing for the Vodafone Warriors Development Squad a great honour.
“I hope to join the New Zealand Police Force and promote community safety. I know the selection and training process is extremely tough. But I am confident that I will make it,” he said.