Ma’a Nonu’s return to New Zealand has been met with both anticipation and scepticism.
Hoping to make a push for a third World Cup appearance later this year, Nonu has rejoined the Blues where he will likely make a formidable midfield partnership with Sonny Bill Williams.
Blues assistant coach Tom Coventry had plenty to say to the sceptics doubting Nonu’s ability to make an impact despite now being 36 years old.
“Ma’a hasn’t missed a trick,” Coventry told NZME. “He hasn’t missed a training, he hasn’t been put on a restricted load, he’s done everything asked of him and he’s been training like a 19-year-old.”
“He’s been marvellous and has fit in seamlessly, really.”
Despite Nonu spending the last three seasons with French club Toulon, Coventry said his conditioning and motivation is still well ahead of the curve.
“Ma’a is in great nick,” Coventry said. “He’s a true pro. He’s come back into our environment, he brings all that experience. Just watching him train, he and Sonny have fit into our team beautifully.”
Nonu played an integral role in New Zealand’s back-to-back World Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2015 and has notched 103 tests in black.
Initially a star for Wellington and the Hurricanes, this stint with the Blues will be his third with the side after suiting up for the club in 2012 and 2014. He also spent a year with the Highlanders in 2013 and had been linked to a move to the Chiefs earlier this year.
If his play is good enough to earn selection for the World Cup in Japan later this year, Nonu could become one of the first players to win three World Cups.
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