THEO Manihera is looking to follow in his father Tane’s footsteps and make a name for himself in the world of rugby.

Sporting all-rounder Theo, 18, has just penned a one-year deal with English Championship club Nottingham RUFC, and is fitting in his training with studies at Nottingham Trent University, where he is studying sport and exercise.

A former pupil at Sedbergh School and Nelson Thomlinson, in Wigton, Carlisle-born Theo was part of the winning Sedbergh team that went unbeaten for two years in the National School Sevens in 2018 and 2019.

The school side also landed the Rosslyn Park HSBC National Schools Sevens in London this year, an event that saw more than 900 schools take part.

Theo has made the decision after also trying his hand, very successfully, at cricket. He represented Cumbria Under-18s and Under-19s before going to County trials at Yorkshire. Several of his team-mates got contracts but Theo missed out.

And he was also a regular in Wigton CC’s Cumbria Cricket 1st XI this summer.

Christchurch, New Zealand-born Tane, 45, came across to England in 1995 and played for Carlisle Centurions RL under coach Paul Charlton, father of current Whitehaven RL coach Gary, for two seasons, before spells at Widnes, Barrow and Workington Town, before ending his career with Whitehaven.

Tane and his wife Gill, who live in Wigton, are good friends of former Town and Haven coach Ged Stokes and his wife Deb, parents of England cricket star Ben Stokes.

And the Maniheras have another son Flynn, 11, who is also at Sedbergh.

The Stokes spent much of their spare time getting Ben to coaching all over the county and Durham in his early days, and Tane said: “It was a constant fight to make the time and find the money to get Theo to training and matches.

“I think we are going to have the same with Flynn but we now know what to expect. We’re both full-time working parents and try to sacrifice what we can for our children. We are immensely proud of our two boys - Ged and Deb did it, so there’s no reason other sporting youngsters can’t target the top even though we are rather isolated in Cumbria.”

Theo, who plays at full-back, centre or on the wing, will be hoping to make his mark with Nottingham and, if his father’s ambition is anything to by, he could well make it to the top.

Tane added: “Theo’s living away from home, fitting in his training with his university studies as well, so it’s also difficult for him.

“I think he’s got the talent and the drive - we just want his to be happy.”