Born: 8 August, 1986 in Auckland, New Zealand
A tough athlete physically and mentally, Manuel was a brilliant dual international who knew her way to the try line for New Zealand in both sevens and 15s.
As captain of New Zealand women’s sevens, the Aucklander led the side to the inaugural HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series title and to Rugby World Cup Sevens glory in 2013, and was also captain when the side successfully defended the series title the following year.
Having overcome the setback of a serious ankle injury in 2014, Manuel went to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games and made a big impression, scoring tries against Kenya and France in the pool stage and in the semi-final against Great Britain. But she did not get the 30th birthday present she had wished for when playing against Australia, finishing with a silver medal, not gold, on her big day.
In 15s, Manuel was a two-time Rugby World Cup winner (2006 and 2010) and the centre had an impressive strike rate of 15 tries from 25 test appearances from 2005-14.
Rugby is in Manuel’s genes as she is one half of the first mother and daughter combination to play for the Black Ferns. Her mother, Liza Mihinui, played three games at hooker for New Zealand.