Look out, here comes Ma'a Nonu with a performance for the Blues at the age of nearly 37 which defied his advancing years, the Waratahs, and all of those who doubted he could deliver in his first season back in Super Rugby since 2015.

Hours before the clocks went back at the official end of New Zealand's summer, Nonu was doing his own time-bending in his side's fourth consecutive victory which moved them deeper into the playoff zone (some might say twilight zone such is the turnaround).

He provided the crucial assists for the Blues' first two tries scored by Tom Robinson and Caleb Clarke, showed the pace of old when backing up Rieko Ioane to run in for his own from 45m out, and scrambled all night on defence. He missed only one tackle.

"He was outstanding," Blues coach Leon MacDonald said. "When he decided to carry he carried with purpose and got us over the gain-line. His defence was abrasive and then he showed his versatility with a 55m wipers [kick] into the corner. When you've played 100 tests like he has it's invaluable on the field and I have no doubt the result, the way it went in the end, he played a big part in that."

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Nonu's last test was his sensational performance at Twickenham in the World Cup final victory over the Wallabies in late 2015. The question on many minds now is perhaps louder than when he returned to the Blues for this third stint at the franchise after his time in France: can he make a sensational return to the black jersey?

Ma'a Nonu of the Blues makes a run against Eben Etzebeth of the Stormers during the round 7 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Stormers. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Ma'a Nonu of the Blues makes a run against Eben Etzebeth of the Stormers during the round 7 Super Rugby match between the Blues and the Stormers. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

The odds are still stacked against him. He will turn 37 on May 21 and, assuming he is targeting the No12 jersey, he has Sonny Bill Williams and Ngani Laumape ahead of him.

Ryan Crotty can play either midfield position and the selectors might even prefer to take a punt on the uncapped 21-year-old Braydon Ennor or Matt Proctor, who played against Japan last year. Jack Goodhue is the incumbent centre and Anton Lienert-Brown an excellent impact player in particular.

But MacDonald suggested just about anything is possible with Nonu.

"What he's shown is you can't write him off," he said. "He's 36 years old and he's going right to the end of the 80 minutes. You have to give him respect or he'll go straight past you if you don't. We're really happy to have him with us this year, obviously, and he's doing a great job for us."

Ma'a Nonu. Photo / Photosport.co.nz
Ma'a Nonu. Photo / Photosport.co.nz

Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson, a former All Blacks midfielder, called Nonu's performance against another veteran in Adam Ashley-Cooper, 35, a "credit to him".

Williams' knee injury meant Nonu had to put in a big shift at Eden Park and for the man outside him, 23-year-old centre TJ Faiane, playing with the veteran of 103 tests is a dream come true.

"I grew up watching him and I think he's the best No12 to ever wear the black jersey," Faiane said. "Sometimes I have to pinch myself to realise I'm playing with my idol. For me it's been enjoyable playing with both Ma'a and Sonny. They both offer different things; they're both powerful men."

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