Ma'a Nonu has hit town but Blues coach Pat Lam will resist the temptation to rush him back for the derby against the Chiefs.

Nonu arrived back in the country yesterday after a short stint in Japan.

He said he played all but one game in Japan, was feeling okay and would join the Blues in camp on Monday.

"It's probably about the same level as ITM Cup," he said of the standard in Japan.


"There are a lot of overseas players there."

Lam said it was a big effort from Nonu to get to last night's game.

"He got in, flew all the way down to Wellington to drop his son off. His partner and newborn are still in Japan waiting for a passport."

Lam told him to spend some time at home in Wellington with family, but the former Hurricane decided he wanted to support his new teammates.

"He's got to go back tomorrow to grab all his stuff and he'll be back up on Monday."

That constant shuttling plus the need to learn the Blues' patterns and moves have almost convinced Lam that an appearance against the Chiefs is out of the question.

"Most likely Africa," Lam said of Nonu's likely debut.

The Blues have a difficult start to the tournament. After a visit to the Chiefs - a team that often gives them problems - the Blues fly to South Africa, where they face the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld, followed the Stormers at Cape Town.

"It's a long season and it's more important [to wait] until Ma'a's ready. We're playing next Friday so it's a quick turnaround."

Nonu left New Zealand shortly after the World Cup for a "sabbatical" in Japan, where he played for the Ricoh Black Rams.

It is expected he will offer an extra edge to a Blues team that has never been short of linebreakers.

The 29-year-old played 110 matches for the Hurricanes before new coach Mark Hammett deemed him to be a malignant dressing-room presence last season and cut ties with him.

Lam was more than happy to pick up his Super rugby pieces.

The 63-test veteran took his place in the Blues box to watch his new teammates lose by a fingernail against the Crusaders.

Last night, the mercurial Rene Ranger was paired with Benson Stanley in the centres. Stanley is a strong defender and smart player, but he lacks Nonu's raw power and ability to beat a man.

Stanley was replaced by Piri Weepu, with Michael Hobbs moving out a spot to second five-eighths.

Weepu had the chance to be a hero in his Blues debut but some desperation defence from the Crusaders denied him.