Ma'a Nonu's new chance in the City of Sails
By Di O’Connell
After a tough few weeks, Ma'a Nonu's moving on and moving to Auckland for the sake of his young family.
“There's a few mates up there, [I] had a few offers from other franchises but I did my best for my family,” he says.
After ruling out the Crusaders because of a midfield logjam and earthquakes he called Blues skipper Keven Mealamu, which didn’t escape coach Pat Lam’s attention for long.
“I gave him a call and he confirmed he wanted to come to the Blues,” Lam says.
In the Blues came, unlike at the Hurricanes, Nonu's seen as an asset.
“The boys all talk and I know Ma'a very well, and he'll fit into our culture very well,” Lam says.
There's been a scramble for the 29-year-old's services since his shock sacking by new Canes coach Mark Hammett.
“We're always trying to manage those tensions as carefully as we possibly can and Mark was always going to make some decisions, in the end this was clearly a very a big one, he's made it and we support him, but we also support Ma'a,” says NZRU chief executive Steve Tew.
The relationship breakdown between Nonu and Hammett came to a head three weeks ago.
“It's pretty disappointing not being required next year. I had nothing to do with the matter, I guess that's the way it goes. It's a shame, but you move on,” Nonu says.
Since then, Nonu's had so many overseas offers his agent gave up replying. But the NZRU's provision to play and earn in Japan at the Ricoh Black Rams after the World Cup, and the lure of the All Blacks stopped the 56 test veteran leaving for good.
“It's letting go of your dream and stepping on other side, so I've got the chance make the [All Blacks] while I still can,” Nonu says.
After nine seasons with the Canes, the shift North will be a new chance to win his first Super Rugby title.