Wynne Gray

Wynne Gray is a Herald columnist

Rugby: Nonu no-show again as Kirwan does about turn

Coach 'thrilled' and midfielder reported to be excited about returning to the Blues.

Ma'a Nonu has signed up for two seasons with the Blues after struggling to find a franchise. Photo / Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu has signed up for two seasons with the Blues after struggling to find a franchise. Photo / Getty Images

There was no appearance from Ma'a Nonu yesterday at the announcement he would play for the Blues for the next two seasons.

But then Nonu hasn't fronted for any interview requests throughout this All Black year and this latest move was arranged under the NZRU umbrella.

He has not fronted much for any Super 15 franchise in the past few seasons either. He left the Hurricanes, then the Blues and now the Highlanders for the Blues once more.

Video


"We're thrilled to welcome him back to the Blues," coach John Kirwan said in his 360 degree change of view on the midfield back.

Apparently Nonu was excited about his return to the Blues but we found out about that sentiment yesterday only in a statement rather than in person.

Why would Kirwan be delighted, why would he be enthused about Nonu's return to clutter the midfield options, why would he embrace someone who'd stiffed the franchise a year ago?

Because the NZRU said he would and because Kirwan knows Nonu is such damaged goods at Super 15 level he will need to pull his head in next season. And because no matter Nonu's truculent behaviour, he is a world-class player and the Blues should benefit from that playing pedigree.

What guarantee is there Nonu will fit in?

Sonny Bill Williams is not playing 2014 in New Zealand which leaves the raw Francis Saili and Ryan Crotty to challenge for the black No12 jersey.

After 85 tests, Nonu brings a test pedigree they cannot match. He has played 133 Super games as well in a decade of professional rugby.

Originally, Kirwan and Nonu cleared the air several weeks after the midfielder reneged on a handshake deal to stay with the Blues this year.

He and All Black prop Tony Woodcock went to the Highlanders and are now both returning.

"I reached out to him five weeks ago. I think I made some mistakes last year and it was important for me to reach out and see if Ma'a was interested in coming back. I have always been excited about coaching him and still haven't done that," Kirwan said.

"For me it was seeing if he was interested in coming back and seeing if we could start creating a relationship."

Kirwan said he'd been told Rene Ranger would be a problem but he had been a great leader and outside back for the Blues.

He hoped that situation would repeat itself with Nonu.

Kirwan wanted more depth in his squad for the 2014 campaign and that would show when the group was revealed next week. They were still looking to nail down an outside back and some of the wider training group.

He did not have any answers about the disparity in Nonu's form in the Super 15 and for the All Blacks but wanted to create an environment where he would express himself.

The NZRU had not insisted the Blues sign Nonu and Kirwan said he did not operate that way.

- NZ Herald

Stats provided by

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a3 at 28 Aug 2014 05:06:14 Processing Time: 717ms