Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

All Blacks: ABs making their own rules

Nonu meets with NZRU for several hours, but decision deadline shifts once again.

Ma'a Nonu as a Blue this year, but there is a fear he could be switching sides to the Highlanders. Photo / Greg Bowker
Ma'a Nonu as a Blue this year, but there is a fear he could be switching sides to the Highlanders. Photo / Greg Bowker

Ma'a Nonu's career with the Blues remains in jeopardy. The 30-year-old has had second thoughts about a handshake deal to complete his second season and is thinking about a switch to the Highlanders instead.

That decision has annoyed the Blues because they had channelled their player recruitment to other positions once they believed Nonu was staying.

When Nonu gave his verbal assurance he would play for John Kirwan in the first year for his coaching group, it balanced the disappointment felt when Mils Muliaina could not break his contract in Japan for a final year with his original Blues franchise.

Now with Nonu having a rethink, the Blues feel they have been left with little available experienced midfield talent, if needed, to help nurture their young recruits.

A few weeks ago there were still a few players on the market like Hadleigh Parkes, Bundee Aki or Shaun Treeby they could have approached, but in the interim those players have been contracted to other franchises.

That has upset the Blues who blame the lack of deadline for the ongoing delays and uncertainty. They were assured Nonu was staying but with the renewed doubts, the Blues began to stew.

They were concerned that All Blacks' needs superseded the operations of every other rugby side.

They point out that Daniel Carter was allowed his sabbatical, Richie McCaw has his lined up next year as the Super 15 continues while Sonny Bill Williams was given a short deal to tide the All Blacks over this season.

Nonu's indecision has bitten into the Blues' plans.

There was a late attempt yesterday to try and reach some compromise as Nonu and his representative met with the NZRU for several hours in Christchurch.

By then though the Blues patience had withered and their annoyance risen about the shifting deadline.

They want one deadline for any transfers and point out that some of the All Blacks seem to be making their own arrangements.

The Blues have midfield backs like Frances Saili, Malaki Fekitoa, Rene Ranger and George Moala but they might have hung onto someone like Parkes or signed Aki if they had known Nonu could move.

After giving the Blues his verbal assurance about turning out next season, Nonu went away on All Black duty in Argentina and South Africa and apparently had a rethink.

The more he talked with those teammates the more he felt he might be better to play alongside more experienced men like Tamati Ellison, Hosea Gear, Colin Slade, Ben Smith and Aaron Smith at the Highlanders while Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore and Adam Thomson were other cronies in the pack.

Ideally, Nonu wants to play for the Hurricanes but after 110 games for that franchise he and others like Piri Weepu were sent on their way last year by coach Mark Hammett. A return is infeasible.

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- NZ Herald

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