Ma'a Nonu, one of the more consistent performers in the Blues' backline this year, has revealed why he turned vegetarian and the lengths he has gone to in order to be present for his wife and three sons in Wellington.
In a recent interview with Sky Television, Nonu, who has been reluctant to talk to the media after returning from France for one last hurrah in Super Rugby, said he turned vegetarian because his son Michael didn't like meat.
"I've stopped eating meat and I started last year in France," he told interviewer Mils Muliaina, a former All Black teammate. "Michael, my second one, he's seven years old. I was trying to feed him meat – chicken – and he would never like it. I thought 'let's try something new'.
"I said 'I'm not going to eat meat because I feel sorry for him, I feel stink'. If we're going out and I'm ordering a T-bone steak and he's eating his carrots and cucumber … I thought if I love my son I won't eat meat because I'll try to be the same as him.
"It's helped me physically and I enjoy it, you know."
Nonu told reporters at the start of the year that part of the reason why he had remained in good condition and fitness despite his advancing years was because he was very careful about what he ate.
At the time he was asked about his goal of making another World Cup and he replied that it was every player's dream to make a World Cup. He went to three – the last in 2015, which was the last time he played for the All Blacks.
And while he's unlikely to add to his 103 caps or make the cut for Japan in September, his consistency and spark in a midfield which has missed Sonny Bill Williams for half the season has been a credit to him. Assistant coach Tana Umaga, a good friend, recently revealed Nonu hadn't missed a training session, a rare thing at this level.
"That's not the focus," Nonu said when asked about what would be a dramatic return to the black jersey. "The focus was coming back and seeing what I could give to the Blues and playing the best I can for them. The main thing for me is to enjoy it. It's not where my destination is, it's the journey.
"Coming back to New Zealand was a great opportunity to play Super Rugby again. I never thought I would even survive the pre-season."
And, in a remarkable insight which makes his performances even more meritorious, Nonu revealed that he commutes from Wellington to Auckland almost daily in order to be home for his family.
"I always leave after training," he said. "I fly to Wellington, pick up the boys from school, have that family time and then the next day take them to school. I primarily just fly back the next day, that's been going on for the last six months.
"I still love the game. If I didn't really care I wouldn't put myself into a position to come back and do pre-season. I wouldn't put myself in a position where people say, 'oh he's 36 years old, now he's 37 and he still can't do this, this or this'. I didn't sacrifice me living in Auckland while my family lives in Wellington for nothing. I've got to give back to them, I have to repay them."
Recent reports suggest Nonu could return to Toulon next year. The game in New Zealand probably won't see his like again.