Blues pass on Nonu, hunt Benji

Tue, 16 Jul 2013 18:28
Large ma a nonu highlanders looks Large benji marshall Large beauden barrett hurricanes Large john kirwan blues gestures

Blues coach John Kirwan says he has no interest in signing Ma’a Nonu but has been in contact with Rugby League star Benji Marshall.

Blues coach John Kirwan says he has no interest in signing Ma’a Nonu but has been in contact with Rugby League star Benji Marshall.

Kirwan has hardly had time to reflect on his first season as head coach of the Auckland Super Rugby side and is already contemplating which players will top his recruitment drive for the 2014 season.

What is set in stone at this early stage is that All Black centre Nonu will not be returning to the Blues following his poor Super Rugby campaign at the Highlanders.

"I don't think Ma'a wants to come back to the Blues, and for me the Hurricanes is where he'd want to be," Kirwan told Fairfax NZ News.

"I don't think there's a spot here in those positions. We're pretty strong. We've got a young backline that's going to be very special in Francis Saili, Charles Piutau and Frank Halai."

Kirwan confirmed that he is in talks with Marshall, who captained New Zealand in their 2008 Rugby League World Cup-winning campaign, and is also in the race for Hurricanes flyhalf Beauden Barrett’s signature.

Marshall officially requested an early release from the final two years of his contract with Wests Tigers on Monday, with the Sydney club as well as the New Zealand national side indicating that they will not stand in his way.

Kirwan initially approached Marshall’s agent Martin Tauber two weeks ago and has since spoken with the 28-year-old himself.

"I've spoken to him [Marshall]. He's a guy who is excited about the next stage of his professional career," said Kirwan.

"It didn't get down to whether we were a part of his mix. I just wanted to talk to him about what he was thinking moving forward.

"What I got out of the conversation was he is genuinely thinking about changes in his life.

"I've spoken to his manager and we're part of what he is thinking moving forward. We're in the mix, I'm sure.

"Benji needs to make some decisions. He's obviously made one very big one and that's to move away from the Tigers.

"He'll be assessing what's on the table and I'm sure the Blues aren't the only people talking to him."

Marshall could join star Rugby League convert Sonny Bill Williams in Japan in a lucrative introduction to Rugby Union, and Kirwan conceded they would be unable to match such a deal.

"I've spoken to Martin and Benji and there are three or four other people we want to talk to over the next 10 days. How that commercial package is put together, if it gets to that, is something we'll assess at the time," said Kirwan.

"I don't know if it's a sticking point, but he's going to have to take a pay cut to come to rugby, so that's a big sacrifice. He's a superstar of Rugby League in a bigger population and money pull. If New Zealand was going to be one of his options, I'm sure he would have to look at it financially as well."

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 22 October 2016
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 12h00 Thomond Park
Free State Cheetahs v Blue Bulls 14h00 Bloemfontein
Clermont Auvergne v Bordeaux 14h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Castres v Northampton Saints 15h15 Stade Pierre Antoine
Saracens v Scarlets 16h30 Allianz Park
Ulster v Exeter Chiefs 18h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sun, 23 October 2016
Montpellier v Leinster 13h00 Altrad Stadium
Toulouse v Wasps 15h15 Le Mans
Zebre v Connacht 15h15 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Leicester Tigers v Racing Metro 16h30 Welford Road
Fri, 28 October 2016
Ulster v Munster 18h05 Kingspan Stadium
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 18h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Edinburgh v Zebre 18h35 BT Murrayfield
Cardiff Blues v Scarlets 18h35 BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park
Northampton Saints v Gloucester 18h45 Franklin's Gardens
Sat, 22 October 2016
New Zealand v Australia 37 | 10
Fri, 21 October 2016
Sale Sharks v Toulon 5 | 15
Sun, 16 October 2016
Exeter Chiefs v Clermont Auvergne 8 | 35
Bordeaux v Ulster 28 | 13
Sat, 15 October 2016
Scarlets v Sale Sharks 28 | 11
Connacht v Toulouse 23 | 21
Northampton Saints v Montpellier 16 | 14
Blue Bulls v Western Province 36 | 30
Toulon v Saracens 23 | 31
Leinster v Castres 33 | 15
Free State Cheetahs v Golden Lions 55 | 17
Wasps v Zebre 82 | 14
Fri, 14 October 2016
Glasgow Warriors v Leicester Tigers 42 | 13
Sun, 09 October 2016
Saracens v Wasps 30 | 14
Sat, 08 October 2016
Scarlets v Dragons 31 | 27
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 10 0 5 43
Waratahs 15 8 0 7 40
Rebels 15 7 0 8 31
Reds 15 3 1 11 17
Force 15 2 0 13 13
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 15 11 0 4 53
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 52
Chiefs 15 11 0 4 51
Crusaders 15 11 0 4 50
Blues 15 8 1 6 39
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 1 4 51
Bulls 15 9 1 5 42
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Sunwolves 15 1 1 13 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 14 11 0 3 52
Sharks 15 9 1 5 43
Jaguares 14 3 0 11 18
Kings 15 2 0 13 9