He's just one of those reliable guys
Ma'a Nonu may not be everybody's cup of tea and his form may be erratic at times, but for the All Blacks he remains a rock.
New Zealand flyhalf Daniel Carter, speaking ahead of Saturday's decisive Rugby Championship encounter with South Africa, described the value the burly midfielder brings to the national team.
Despite his disciplinary problems and pitiful form at Super Rugby level, where bans and cards were common in the past three years, the 79-Test veteran still has the backing of his All Black teammates.
Top of that list is carter, who ironically was at the receiving end when the dark side of Nonu's game hit a new low in July.
Sent off by referee Steve Walsh for a tip-tackle on Tom Marshall in the encounter with the Crusaders in Dunedin, Nonu was also cited for a dangerous tackle 10 minutes earlier on Carter.
Nonu was later handed a three-week suspension for the tip-tackle - a ban that ruled him out for the rest of the season.
There were similar situations at the Hurricanes in 2011 and the Blues in 2012.
Yet both years he managed find his form for the All Blacks.
It is obvious Nonu benefits from having good players around him.
In the All Black team he has Carter or Aaron Cruden inside him, both of whom know how to use him effectively, more or less putting him through a gap before he has even caught the ball. And on the outside he has the guile of Conrad Smith.
Carter has made no secret of his admiration for the burly midfielder.
"He's just one of those reliable guys who can get you over the gain-line whenever you need it," Carter told a media scrum in Auckland.
"If you need the ball going forward he's a go-to man for myself.
"His footwork and strength are real attributes that encourages me to give him the ball. His experience as well, he's played in a lot of big matches in his career.
"On an occasion like this he's nice and relaxed, and thinking clear as well. He's a good player to have outside," he said.
Carter said Nonu has been "in good form" for the All Blacks all year.
"He'll look to continue that," the Kiwi No.10 said.
Nonu was given the last week's Test against Argentina off to rest an ankle that's been giving him a bit problems this season.
"He's excited to play as well. Having to sit back and watch last weekend would have been frustrating for him, and he'll be in for a big game."
Source: Fairfax NZ News