In his prime, Ma'a Nonu was immaculate.

An unstoppable force on attack and an immovable object on defence, he was one of those rare figures fans happily pay to see in action. In his time in Super Rugby, shared between the Hurricanes, Highlanders and Blues, he delivered on a near-weekly basis.

Now after three years with French club Toulon, the barnstorming midfielder's name has come up for a potential return to Super Rugby. You'd imagine if he does, it will be with a New Zealand franchise.

The 103-test All Black is now 36 years old and it's hard to imagine there being a huge market for an ageing back in today's landscape.


The Hurricanes have ruled his return out. The Crusaders are stacked in the midfield. The Highlanders have a brilliant young midfield combination in Teihorangi Walden and Rob Thompson, and the Blues seem intent on running Rieko Ioane at an inside position rather than on the wing.

Ma'a Nonu impressed in his tenure with the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport
Ma'a Nonu impressed in his tenure with the Hurricanes. Photo / Photosport

The Chiefs, however, will be sifting through the midfield market in the off-season, with Charlie Ngatai, Johnny Fa'auli and Tim Nanai-Williams all leaving at the end of their 2018 campaign.

With Alex Nankivell and Sean Wainui the only inside backs on the roster to pair with Anton Lienert-Brown, there's surely some scope to offer Nonu a one-year deal.

Wainui and Nankivell are up to making the No12 jersey their own but they are both young and relatively fresh to Super Rugby.

Nankivell, 21, has nine appearances in the competition while Wainui, 22, who has been learning to play in the centres this season, has 14.

For the right price, surely there's no harm in bringing in Nonu to show the young guns a thing or two before he hangs his boots up for good. He has remained fit in France — consistently producing 80-minute performances — and it wouldn't hurt to have another veteran around the squad.

The most experienced players in the backline next year at this stage will be 23-year-olds Damian McKenzie and Lienert-Brown.

Sure, Nonu's not going to be at the same rampaging force he once was and you wouldn't expect him to warrant a big-time offer but he could prove to be an important asset in the Chiefs' development.

Given the midfield situation at the franchise in 2019, Nonu seems worth a punt.

One year to prove his worth. If it works out, great; if not, don't extend the contract and move on. No major damage done.