New Zealand

Nonu: NZRU turning up the heat

Wed, 31 Jul 2013 13:37
Ma_a-nonu-club-game Ma_a-nonu-highlanders-looks Ma_a-nonu-club-game2 Ma_a-nonu-highlanders-spear Ma_a-nonu-nz-v-france

The New Zealand Rugby Union, desperate to find a new home for veteran midfielder Ma'a Nonu, is turning up the heat on the Hurricanes to 'take back' the troublesome player.

Nonu left the Hurricanes under a cloud after an ugly public spat with coach Mark Hammett in 2011.

The centre, as well as then Hurricanes skipper Andrew Hore and scrumhalf Piri Weepu, were shown the door because of the negative effect they had on the team culture.

Nonu lasted just one season (2012) with the Blues (despite signing a two-year contract) and was also unable to agree to new terms after just one season (2013) with the Highlanders.

None of the five franchises were interested in his services, although Hammett said he would 'sit down' with the 31-year-old to see if they could find some common ground.

However, it has now been revealed by Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith that the NZRU has been "in talks" with the franchise over Nonu's future.

Smith says he's had a brief chat with Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett about Nonu.

"He [Hammett] said that the NZRU had approached them," Smith said.

"The issue hadn't come to a head at that stage, but he'd obviously been sounded out and he wanted to get my opinion.

"I just said in terms of playing I'd love to have him [Nonu] there, but I was aware and I appreciated there is a lot bigger picture and lot of other things to go through.

"Since then I haven't been asked about it, I anticipate that I will be maybe in the coming weeks."

Smith is confident Nonu can be welcomed back to the Hurricanes if he makes some minor adjustments.

Nonu is currently in camp with the All Blacks in Auckland and Steve Hansen says he doesn't seem worried about his Super Rugby future.

"He's focusing on being here and doing what he has to do here, and doing it well," Hansen said.

"That's the expectation we have of him and that's the same expectation he has for himself.

"So it's just business as usual."

Hansen says Nonu's told him he wants to go back to the Hurricanes, but neither are sure if it will happen.

"He knows that he can't control what he can't control, and what will be, will be. What he does know though is that when he's here, he's got to play well."

Sources: Newstalk ZB & 3 News

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