Ma'a Nonu likely to miss Blues' kick-off
January 29, 2014
Ma'a Nonu confirmed his standing with the All Blacks in 2013 © Getty Images
Ma'a Nonu in unlikely to kick-off his second spell with the Blues against the Highlanders in Super Rugby round one, after undergoing clean-up ankle surgery to correct a long-term injury that troubled him last season.
Nonu, now with his third team in four seasons, has returned to the Blues on full-time Super Rugby duty with his All Blacks team-mates, after their extended break, and he is highly motivated to perform to a high level after a mixed year for the Blues, in his first season in 2012, and a disappointing year for the Highlanders in 2013. But he told TVNZ that he would not rush his return as he was "just starting to run the next couple of weeks at full speed" and wanted to "get things right, don't want it injured again".
Nonu said he could not afford to "look back on previous experiences" at the Blues, where he reneged on a handshake deal with Sir John Kirwan in what was the coach's first season in charge last year - choosing to join the Highlanders.
Nonu struggled with form and discipline as the Highlanders slumped to 14th on the ladder, winning only three matches, but he finished the All Blacks' unbeaten Test campaign rated by many pundits as the best centre in the world .
Kirwan was unwilling on Tuesday to predict when Nonu would return to action, telling APNZ that "he's done everything he needs to do, he wants to play, but I'm just going to hold him back like we will with the others [All Blacks]".
"I want him to be well physically, and his wellbeing is the most important thing," Kirwan told Fairfax Media. "We just need to get him well first and put him out when he's ready. He wants to play, but I'm going to hold him back."
Kirwan refused to accept that Nonu was a "problem child", while veteran Blues scrum-half Piri Weepu, a close friend of Nonu, said: "It's good that he and JK could work out their differences. You've got to bite the bullet at some stage, and both of them did that. But it's going to take a while, and hopefully the medical staff do everything possible to get him back in good nick first."
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