Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Nonu impresses in draw

Ma'a Nonu in action during the third Bledisloe Cup test in Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu in action during the third Bledisloe Cup test in Brisbane. Photo / Getty Images

Often it's the smallest of details which distinguish the very good international players.

After the week he has been involved in Ma'a Nonu might have dodged a few of those issues.

But those who thought his mind might have been a little jangled after the about turn in his contract dealings would not have noticed too many signs last night at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.

Nonu was all tarted up in his new AIG logo and neon yellow boots and with his mind, initially at least, in gear.

Possession did not come his way or in the Al Blacks direction early but the senior midfielder went looking for work.

He slapped a big hit on Nathan Sharpe to remind him there were no freebies, even after 112 tests and then for good measure wrestled him into the dirt.

His first real touch found him in space on the left side of the ground as he speared a beautiful kick downfield which if it had turned right instead of left would have given Hosea Gear a serious run at the tryline.

That gave the All Blacks a little bit of impetus and when Nonu cleared up another loose delivery in the Wallaby 22, his powerful run got them to within a rare sniff of the line.

He did not rest on those pieces of work. He chased a kickoff hard, claimed it and won his team a penalty but Daniel Carter could not convert.

For those who think Nonu is just a bullocking, bash-artist, his pick-up of a tricky bounce pass showed the deft touch he has for such a powerful athlete.

He can mix the silky with the strong arm, he can batter and blast his way into defences or dance and jink with feet which look too light for the dance floor.

There were errors when he was nailed for blocking but Nonu was not on his own with the All Blacks having a listless start in the balmy mid-evening conditions.

However he would have admonished himself after the break when the All Blacks, a man down with Tony Woodcock in the sinbin, mounted a superb counter from Cory Jane.

His run inside the Wallabies 22 had them in disarray with Nonu on his shoulder. However Nonu shelled the pass in some traffic and the danger was relieved.

It was huge let-off but a sign of the All Blacks misfiring night, an evening when many of them seemed to be a shade off sync as they chased a tier one record-equalling winning sequence.

- NZ Herald

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