Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Smith confirms Hurricanes asked about Nonu

The official heat has been coming on the Hurricanes to patch up their differences with Ma'a Nonu.

The All Black second five eighths is in Super 15 limbo after falling out with the Highlanders following similar spats with the Blues and Hurricanes and no interest from the Crusaders or Chiefs.

However Hurricanes and All Black centre Conrad Smith revealed some of the behind the scenes machinations to reunite Nonu and the Hurricanes.

The NZRU had broached the issue with Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett who had then quizzed Smith about the prospect.

"He said the NZRU had approached them, so the issue had not come to a head at that stage but they had obviously been sounded out and he just wanted to get my opinion," Smith said.

"It was literally a two minute conversation," Smith said.

Did he expect Nonu to be at the Hurricanes in 2014?

"I don't know. That's obviously why it is taking as long as it has, there's a bit to go through and like I say I don't know where it is going to end up.

But I think there would have to be a bit of shifting on his (Nonu's ) account but I am always an optimist and think that can be done but like I say I don't know what is going to happen or where it will get to."

It was a strange situation to have a senior All Black without a Super 15 portfolio.

"It is pretty unique and I don't think it will happen a lot but I am optimistic it will get to a good conclusion and there are just a few things that have to be worked through in the meantime.

Smith was asked about Nonu a month ago before the issue became more popular and said he would leave the decision to the midfield back. A number of issues were involved and there was a bigger picture to be worked through.

Smith anticipated he would be asked about the issue again in the next few weeks.
"That is obviously being dealt with at a high level and I can honestly say I don't know where it's got to or where it's at."

It was a strange situation.

"It is pretty unique and I don't think it will happen a lot but I am optimistic it will get to a good conclusion just a few things have to be worked through in the meantime.

All Black coach Steve Hansen said he had never had any issues with Nonu but he always needed to be at his best to be chosen in his teams.

Meanwhile Smith said the Hurricanes were keen to retain off contract five eighths Beauden Barrett but he needed space to make his choice and his captain wanted to give him that room.

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