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'A bit of Ma'a Nonu about him': Robertson implores young All Black to reject French advances

By Ben Smith
Leicester Fainga’anuku of New Zealand takes the field during the International test Match in the series between the New Zealand All Blacks and Ireland at Eden Park on July 02, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Incoming All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson has expressed his desire for young All Black and Crusaders wing Leicester Fainga’anuku to stay in New Zealand after reports of French interest continue.


Reports have linked the 23 year old with Top 14 clubs Bordeaux, Lyon and Toulon for a deal after the Rugby World Cup when he comes off-contract.

Toulon has been reported as having ‘advanced talks’ with the two-Test All Black by French media.

The elevation of Crusaders head coach Robertson to the All Blacks job may help convince Fainga’anuku to stay, who had glowing praise for his outside back.

Robertson compared him to All Black centurion and great Ma’a Nonu and suggested that a long-term future at No 12 might be possible for him.

“I’d love for him to stick around,” Robertson told Newshub.

“He’s something different to what we’ve got in our team [and] in a lot of teams.

“He can push into 13 and even to 12. There’s a bit of Ma’a Nonu about him with that power… a bit of Umaga style.

“The comparisons, that’s what we do as coaches, but he’s got all of that skill set.”

“He’s definitely got a lot of interest with what he can bring to a game of rugby.

“He had an injury and came back and was right at the top of his game.


“His consistency is All Black level for sure.”

Nonu started his Super Rugby career as a winger for the Hurricanes before moving into the midfield to form a combination with Tana Umaga.

After Umaga’s retirement, Nonu moved into No 12 where he formed an all-time combination with Conrad Smith.

Robertson has relied on Fainga’anuku as an option at centre when injury has struck, but is yet to play him at second five-eighth.

Fainga’anuku made it clear that his future has not been decided, with his sole focus on winning another Super Rugby title with the Crusaders.


“I don’t know my future yet,” Fainga’anuku told Newshub.

“My future right now is trying to win another Super Rugby title.

“I’m a pretty chill, laid-back guy. I’m used to offers coming in since the day I left school. That’s part of the job.

“But, at the end of the day, for me my main focus is here, giving my all to the Crusaders.

“[As] I said, another title would be handy.”






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1 Comment
DavidDawei 400 days ago

Stay big fella.

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