AFLNZ U18 star signs with Canberra Raiders

AFL New Zealand U18 superstar Manny Snooks has signed with the Canberra Raiders in the NRL.


Manny Snooks,17, of Ngaruahine Rangi and Nga Puhi descent, was born in Hāwera before moving with family to Whangarei.

He will fly to the Australian capital on November 1 and straight into pre-season training.

“The dream would be to play in the NRL for sure,” he said. “It’ll be hard as there will be heaps of running but it’ll be OK. I like to try keep myself in shape.”

Snooks, who plays second row/lock, played his first game of rugby league for the Hāwera Hawks when he was 5 years old before switching over to play for the Normanby/ Okiawa Knights until he moved to Whangarei aged 11.

“I really enjoy the physicality of league and running and all the fitness,” he said.

“I like the bonding, meeting new players as well as the travel.”

He was spotted by Pacific Sports Management agent at a national rugby league competition in 2016 in Rotorua. One week later he signed for the Raiders.

Manny has represented New Zealand in AFL at Academy and U18 level and was part of the historic side who won over in Australia in May this year.


Read more: NZ U18’s secure historic first win in Australia


When asked about how AFL has helped him in the sport of Rugby League.

“The sport of AFL has helped me a lot with my Rugby League. It has kept me in the best shape I’ve ever been fitness wise so I was able to play a full 80 minutes consistently.

My kicking game has improved a lot especially me being a forward who can kick is a deadly trait.

My communication has improved as well with lots of positive talk on the field. It helps when I’m more fit to not lose my breath in the game as well!

Having played in the ruck and also being involved in aerial contests it has given me the confidence when going toe to toe against an opponent while the ball in the air.”

Snooks said a few teams including the Melbourne Storm, North Queensland Cowboys and NZ Warriors were chasing him but in the end Canberra won out.

“I like the team environment and a few guys from up north and NZ are there playing there, some in first grade,” he said.

“We gelled really well together and there was a real sense of brotherhood there.”

His new contract will see him initially train with the Raiders SG Ball team (under 18’s) and all going well Snooks hoped he’d make the clubs Under-20 side.

“Then I can hopefully come home and play the Warriors,”  he said.

While he may be chasing his ultimate dream across the ditch, there were will be one thing he’ll miss about not being at home.

Mum Gael, Dad Steven and siblings Milano,15, T.J, 13, and Sarelle, 6.

“It’ll be my family I miss most, especially my little sister. I take her everywhere,” he said.