Ma'a Nonu signs with Auckland Blues
Oct. 22, 2013
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Ma'a Nonu may have saved his All Blacks career and increased his chances of playing at the 2015 World Cup after signing a two-year Super Rugby contract with the Auckland-based Blues.
Nonu had seemed likely to play club rugby in France next season after being shunned by all five of New Zealand's Super Rugby teams. Under local regulations, no player playing outside New Zealand can be considered for All Blacks selection and Nonu's departure, possibly for Stade Francais, would have ended his international career.
But Nonu has been thrown a lifeline by the Blues after patching differences with head coach John Kirwan.
The 31-year-old center, who has played 85 tests, has played for the Wellington-based Hurricanes, the Blues and the Dunedin-based Highlanders over the past three seasons.
Nonu was first cut the by the Hurricanes, for whom he had played more than 100 games, in 2011. He was picked up by the Blues for the 2012 season but fell out with Kirwan when he failed to honor an agreement to play for the Auckland-based club again in 2013.
He joined the Highlanders but was not re-signed at the end of the 2013 season. That left him without a New Zealand team but none of the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises initially expressed interest in signing him.
While Nonu has been a mainstay of All Blacks teams for several years and, with Conrad Smith, has formed the most-capped midfield pairing in New Zealand history, his Super Rugby form has sometimes been mediocre.
The Blues finally stepped up on Tuesday and announced they had signed Nonu to a two-year contract which will ensure he remains in New Zealand, and available for All Blacks selection, through the next World Cup.
"I am excited to be staying in New Zealand and returning to play my rugby with the Blues," Nonu said. "While I had options to play elsewhere, my preference was always to stay, so my family and I are really happy that I can do that.
"I would like to thank the Blues and New Zealand Rugby for giving me the chance to re-sign for a further two years."