Wanderer Ma'a Nonu returns to Hurricanes
July 16, 2014
Ma'a Nonu announces he is leaving the Blues to return to his hometown and the Hurricanes © Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu's itinerate Super Rugby lifestyle continues, this time with a return to the Hurricanes. World class All Blacks midfield back Nonu, 32, will leave the Blues after signing a one-year deal with the team he represented for nine seasons.
The departure of Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett to Cardiff next season appears to have prompted the widely anticipated move, following a breakdown in relations between the pair in 2011. Nonu and All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore were axed by Hammett, sparking the departure of fellow-Hurricanes stalwarts Piri Weepu and Hosea Gear.
Nonu, 32, played a season for the Blues in 2012 before shifting to the Highlanders a year later and then back to the Blues for 2014. The 91-Test veteran said in a statement that a major carrot for returning to Wellington was being close to his family.
"I'm very happy to be heading home to the family again and am looking forward to the challenge ahead in 2015," he said.
Before leaving the capital, Nonu scored 43 tries in 110 Hurricanes games.
Incoming coach Chris Boyd says Nonu will complement the players already on the roster and he will help fill a gaping hole left by Tim Bateman and Alapati Leiua. Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni says recent speculation that Nonu was poised to return home had sparked plenty of fan interest. Captain Conrad Smith told journalists that Nonu's return would need to be handled carefully.
"Bringing a player that influential back into the team we have to make sure the whole team is happy with it," he said. "He's a good mate of mine and I've played a lot of rugby with him. It will be good for the team but it has to be managed right."
Smith said he had spoken to Nonu about a new culture at the Hurricanes and was confident his long-time midfield partner would buy into the team's new ethos. "Hopefully he sees how much it has changed when he's back as well. But I think Ma'a has changed a fair bit in that time too."
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