Tonga rugby coach Toutai Kefu is confident Nasi Manu will be a part of their 2019 World Cup plans after the player underwent surgery for testicular cancer.
The 30-year-old loose forward had an operation in August to remove an abnormal growth and his Italian club side Benetton announced last week he would begin a cycle of chemotherapy in the coming days.
"I just want to say a big thank you to Dr. Luigi Maccatrozzo, Dr. Alberto De Gobbi, Dr. Giandavide Cova and the rest of the Urology department of the Ca 'Foncello Hospital Treviso," Manu said.
"Thanks to my club, from management to teammates: I appreciate all your support. Thanks to my wife, my family and friends. I'll still have to do the last treatments before the fight can be considered over, but I know I'll succeed and I'll be back soon "
The former Crusaders and Highlanders number eight made his test debut for the 'Ikale Tahi during the Pacific Nations Cup in June but will miss next month's matches against the French Barbarians, Wales and Georgia as he continues his recovery.
Thankyou to everyone for the messages of support. Definitely has put a lot of things into perspective. Still a bit of a road to recovery but got the best Italy has to offer and I will make a full recovery I’m sure of it! Don’t be embarrassed, check your balls! #BallOut https://t.co/KYTxVCGA2D— Nasi Manu (@Nasi_Manu) October 17, 2018
Toutai Kefu said Manu made an outstanding impact in his three test appearances this year and was confident he would be available for selection again in 2019.
"He was fantastic in June - his value both on and off the field has been absolutely valuable so we will miss him but he's got other things to worry about but hopefully we can bring him back in next year," he said.
"He was 50/50 with making the tour and he actually alluded to me that by the time the tour starts he would be available back but I'm not too sure now," he said.
"I haven't spoken to him recently - the last time I spoke to him was about a month ago - so that's what he told me. From what I've read in the media it may take longer."