In news out of the Southern Hemisphere, former All Black Ma’a Nonu is to resume his Super Rugby career with the Blues in 2019.
The one time Blues center will sign a one year deal, to again run out onto Eden Park. This time, he will add to his 160 Super Rugby caps, as a more senior figure, than when he first started his professional career in 2003. Ma’a Nonu also joins up with former teammate, and now coach of the Auckland franchise, Tana Umaga.
Ma’a Nonu to resume Super Rugby career with the Blues
In a video post for the Blues social media channels, Ma’a Nonu announced his intention to resume his New Zealand (NZ) rugby. That is, after retiring after the successful 2015 Rugby World Cup.
After several seasons with French rugby giants Toulon, Nonu decided to not continue his lucrative contract, noting family reasons. The highly respected inside center has used that explanation on several occasions, and in 2019 it will be his third term with the Blues franchise.
A long Super Rugby history of featuring for the Hurricanes, the Blues, the Highlanders, Blues and finally, the 2015 Hurricanes team. On that occasion, both he and Conrad Smith made their only appearance in a Super Rugby grand final. Not a winning one, though it was seen as the final word on his storied Super Rugby career.
News this week has extended that journey for ma’a nonu.
From Toulon to Auckland – a rugby Journey book-ended with the Blues
The potential rewards in France, are rich. Only this week, Beauden Barrett has reportedly been offered $2 million dollars a year, to sign with Lyon. Ma’a Nonu may not have served that amount of Euro, but his potential wage in Auckland would be half that value.
BREAKING: Ma’a Nonu announces that he will be leaving Toulon and will temporarily put his career on hold citing family reasons. pic.twitter.com/iFwPXiFEbj
— RugbyInsideLine (@RugbyInsideLine) May 29, 2018
The reason for his leaving Toulon will only be known by the player. But in the negotiations with the beleaguered Blues franchise, they will have offered conditions which are sympathetic to the player’s desire. Known for his strong family bond, the benefits would also be on the rugby field naturally.
In 2019, Ma’a Nonu will join a team that has continued to under-perform in Super Rugby. Eternally the ‘cellar dwellers’ of the NZ conference, Nonu could offer experience and a chance to mentor the backline. That would be a similar to how Keven Mealamu and Jerome Kaino had done previously, although the Blues [and NZ Rugby] board will hope for improved final standings.
If the inclusion of Ma’a Nonu can do one thing, it is to hold Rieko Ioane on the left wing. Too often in 2018, the All Blacks winger was forced into the number 13, or even 12 jerseys. Not what supporters had been told would happen, but due to injury to Sonny Bill Williams and George Moala. It was also due to the clubs continued inability to sign future talent – a sore point with several rugby commentators, including this reporter. The benefit of having a solid performer like Ma’a Nonu on the books may be a revelation.
That would mean the rugby journey of Ma’a Nonu adds another chapter. At 36 years old; and at 37 next season, he might book-end his story on a positive note, after so many ups-and-downs over his 16-year career.
At time of publishing, the exact 2019 Super Rugby calendar is unknown. The Blues preseason will begin in November, with an expected period for Ma’a Nonu to re-establish his relationship with the Blues players, management and fans.
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