Tue 15 Jul 2014 | 12:23
Nonu's return can't ruffle feathers
Tue 15 Jul 2014 | 12:23
Nonu's return can't ruffle feathersSHARE
As Ma'a Nonu's imminent return to the Hurricanes draws nearer, key figures at the franchise say the transition needs to be managed carefully.
A controversial figure, both on and off the field, Nonu is yet to make an official announcement on his playing future but it is understood he will use an out-clause in his contract to leave the Blues halfway through a two-year deal.
The Blues are still hopeful of retaining the 91-Test All Black.
Current Hurricanes captain and Nonu's long-time midfield partner in the All Blacks, Conrad Smith, said there was an excitement at the franchise when it emerged that Nonu, a 100-game Hurricane, could be on his way back.
"Brining a player that influential back into the team, we have to make sure the team is happy with it," he said.
"I'm not saying they're not, in fact it's the opposite. Everyone is pretty happy from what I've heard, but it is a big decision."
The Hurricanes have had problems off the field this season with departing coach Mark Hammett firing some final shots in his last interview before taking up a three-year deal with Cardiff.
Hammett said he was 'disappointed' by the 'mess' that greeted him when he arrived at Westpac Stadium in 2011.
A lack of professional standards, leadership and hard work were the main flaws according to Hammett, who controversially axed Nonu and then captain Andrew Hore before Piri Weepu jumped ship.
"I want the Hurricanes to be successful and if Ma'a helps the Hurricanes to be successful then great," Hammett added.
While Hammett failed to elevate the Hurricanes to the playoffs during his four-year tenure, Smith maintained that there had been improvements off the field and that they were substantial
The All Black centre indicated that Nonu would need to embrace the new team culture upon his return.
"Hopefully he sees how much it has changed when he's back," Smith added.
"I think Ma'a has changed a fair bit in that time as well so if the stars align and everything works out I think it will be great for the club."
Meanwhile, Smith also revealed that Hammett would be sorely missed.
"Not often a head coach leaves and none of the players want him to leave," he said.
"All the players under him now will look back and tell you about how much he has done for the club."