Nonu considers his future with the ABs
Fri, 28 Sep 2012 6:40p.m.
By Jim Kayes in Buenos Aires
Ma'a Nonu will play his 71st test for the All Blacks in Sunday's Rugby Championship match against Argentina.
It's a predictable All Blacks side that includes the return of first-five Dan Carter from a calf injury and half back Aaron Smith, who had been benched for breaking a team curfew.
But there is intrigue around Nonu's future. Is this his second-to-last test for the All Blacks? Will he soon head overseas?
Nonu was sidelined for part of training with a sore toe, giving him more time to consider his future.
To stay or to go? Either way he has to decide soon.
"The date's closing in and I just want to play good in the next two weeks and it will kind of decide what I want to do," Nonu says.
The All Blacks second-five concedes it would be a touch sad if this was his last two Tests.
“I guess you've just to move on really, people come and go," he says.
Long time centre partner Conrad Smith says he'll try to convince Nonu to stay.
"Yeah mate I will if it helps at all but we're pretty good when it comes to things like that we just leave each other to it. It's not always an easy decision, but I'll do what I can if I need to," Smith says.
If Nonu is leaving it could rule him out of the All Blacks November tour, but the coach isn’t giving much away.
"We'll have to wait and see about that," says Steve Hansen.
Finding someone to fill Nonu's boots will be difficult. Sonny Bill Williams has gone and Tamati Ellison is not yet the commanding on field figure Nonu is.
Nonu debuted for the All Blacks in 2003 but was in and out of the team for four years and not picked for the 2007 World Cup.
Since 2008 he's been a permanent fixture at second-five and is one of the keys this week to breaking down a very good Pumas defence.
They like to show the gap and then scramble well to close it once the attacker's committed.
"There is space there but they do cover it extremely well so you almost have to earn the right to be able to attack against them," says Dan Carter.
Having Carter back at first-five for his 90th Test after he missed the Wellington game against the Pumas with injury should help.
"Playing over here in probably what we can expect to be pretty hostile environment so just having his cool head is going to be big for us, we'll rely on him to direct us around the field and not get too flustered," says Conrad Smith.
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