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After stealing the show on the grand stage that was the NRL’s historic double-header in Las Vegas on Sunday, Joey Manu admitted there were times last week when playing rugby league on the other side of the world was the last thing he wanted to be doing.

The Kiwi Test star remained in Sydney after his teammates departed for the US late last month as he awaited the birth of his daughter, and when she eventually arrived on February 24 Manu decided he wouldn’t travel to take on the Broncos at Allegiant Stadium.

But some arm twisting from coach Trent Robinson triggered a change of heart, with the 27-year-old arriving days before kick-off and going on to play a starring role in his side’s 20-10 win over last year’s beaten grand finalists.

“Once she came, I wanted to stay home. I tried to stay home. But ‘Robbo’ told me to get on the plane and come over here,” Manu said after the game.

“Only the second day after she came, I had to pretty much go [to the US].

“It was full on, no sleep. It was tough leaving my wife, I just felt like I was helpless really and I felt so bad.

“But she ended up getting her head around it. She was supportive as and said, ‘go do your thing and come home to us next week’.”

And do his thing he did.

A try off an intercept to open the game was followed by a masterful assist in the second half – which saw Manu create space between two defenders before flinging a no-look flick pass out to winger Junior Pauga – played a huge role in the Roosters winning their first season-opener since 2021.

Manu also contributed 165 run metres, eight tackle busts and two line break assists, with the experience of being part of a history-making event worth it in the end.

“To come over here in Vegas, I always wanted to be a part of it,” Manu said.

“I just didn’t want to miss out on the game. It was a good experience out there.

“We’re the first to do it too, so I didn’t want to miss it and it would have been pretty tough watching it from home.

“I’m glad I came over now.”

Meanwhile the two-time premiership winner said he was hopeful of having his immediate playing future sorted soon, as he continues to decide between remaining in the NRL or potentially switching codes to rugby union, which he grew up playing in New Zealand.

“Still in the middle of sorting things out. But Robbo has been awesome. He’s been openminded and he just wants the best for myself,” Manu said.

“I just want the best for myself, my family and the Roosters too.

“Hopefully I can get some things in place. But still up in the air. I just want to knock it on the head and then just get into the season.

“I hope I get to finish my career here or get a few more years here. I came here when I was 16, so to give back to the club, the fans, the members and all that, would be special.

“They kickstarted my career and hopefully I get a few more years… it would be tough to play for a different club.”