The San Diego Legion have added a formidable physical presence to their Major League Rugby roster in the form of Māori All Blacks international Jordan Manihera. Arriving from Waikato, where he has been a starter for the past three Mitre 10 Cup seasons, the 25-year-old also has two Super Rugby caps on his record with the Blues during the 2014 season.
Manihera began his professional career as a blindside flanker, representing New Zealand at the 2013 IRB (World Rugby) Junior World Championship. After three seasons with North Harbour the Auckland native moved to Waikato in 2016. In his second season he switched from the blindside flank to No8, which has been his primary role since.
Despite being on the fringes of the Blues squad Manihera and being eyed by the Hurricanes, Manihera has been unable to secure a full-time Super Rugby deal. In 2017 he earned selection to the Māori All Blacks, appearing against both Canada and the French Barbarians. He was then set to join Brive in the Top 14 as a medical joker but the deal fell through at the last minute.
The Legion have started the season well, winning four straight since their narrow defeat to Rugby United New York. Manihera gives them a powerful ball carrying option that has been absent from their loose forward stocks. Keni Nasoqeqe had been earmarked for the role but has been forced to concentrate on lock after the planned arrival of another New Zealander, Liam Hallam-Eames, did not materialise. Hallam-Eames has since since signed with the Jersey Reds of the RFU Championship.