Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul: If Nonu flits off to France, heads will roll

Ma'a Nonu. Photo / Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu. Photo / Getty Images

Someone or somebody has to be accountable for the Ma'a Nonu saga.

No one has won, no one involved has come out with any credit and the chances are high a critical test player could end up in France next year as European headhunters go looking for All Black bounty.

Best place to start in this quest to apportion blame is the man himself. He's complex and challenging - certainly not someone who fits neatly within the parameters modern coaches like.

In plainer English, deservedly or not, he's gained a reputation for being a bit of a dick. Gain a reputation like that and it is almost impossible to lose but, frankly, it only became relevant because he didn't play well for either the Blues or Highlanders.

If he had delivered on the field the way he does for the All Blacks, he'd not be without a contract. He made it too easy for all five franchises to reject him as he gave the overwhelming impression he's a player who only performs when he feels like it and most likely he won't feel like it between February and May.

But the various Super rugby coaches, too, have to ask whether they focused too much on Nonu's alleged ability to be a problem instead of his proven ability to be a world-class player.

There are 82 test caps and 11 seasons as an All Black that say he's the sort of player that can help a side win a Super rugby championship. There aren't any midfielders quite like him in New Zealand and Nonu should have been seen as the best management challenge in Super rugby instead of a poisoned chalice.

Imagine being the coach who tamed Nonu - got him to play at Super rugby as he does for the All Blacks? And that's kind of the point of coaching - the challenge is to deal with different personalities and make them work for the team. Players don't come out of a box, instructions on how they work neatly explained in a manual.

The All Blacks have a diamond in Nonu but this time next year they might have dust. Heads will roll if that happens.

- NZ Herald

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Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer

Gregor Paul is the Herald on Sunday's rugby writer. He has written several books on rugby including the Reign of King Henry, Black Obsession and For the Love of the Game.

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