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Two-time RWC winner Ma’a Nonu names All Blacks who would thrive in SVNS

By Finn Morton
Will Jordan of the All Blacks is congratulated on his try by Ardie Savea during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 14, 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Two-time Rugby World Cup-winning All Black Ma’a Nonu was quick to name a few current New Zealand internationals who could hypothetically make a successful switch to the SVNS Series.

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On the final day at SVNS LAX at Dignity Health Sports Park earlier this month, Nonu watched on as the world’s best rugby sevens talent went head-to-head in decisive knockout fixtures.

Nonu’s countrywomen the Black Ferns Sevens went on to win their second leg of the season in Los Angeles, while Antoine Dupont helped inspire France’s drought-breaking run to glory.

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Dupont, who is a former World Rugby 15s Player of the Year, made the official dream team on debut in Vancouver and made the selection again a week later in the City of Angels.

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While the move between 15s and sevens is no easy feat, New Zealand rugby great Ma’a Nonu believes a number of current All Blacks could make the switch and thrive.

“I could name a few names,” Nonu told RugbyPass & SVNS Series in LA.

“Will Jordan would be a good player, Mark Tele’a as well. Ardie Savea would be a great sevens player – he did play sevens as well, and Rieko Ioane.

“There’s a handful of them.”

Before winning back-to-back World Cups with the All Blacks in 2011 and 2015, Nonu entered the fray of rugby sevens as a youngster on the rise in 2004.

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20 years later, at the age of 41, Nonu is still playing the sport he loves with San Diego Legion in the United States’ Major League Rugby competition.

But after reflecting on his own days in sevens, the Test centurion explained how rugby’s shorter format can help players improve before returning to the more traditional 15s game.

“In 2004 they had an All Blacks trial but I wasn’t allowed to play it because I wasn’t actually fit enough to play,” Nonu explained.

“I got sent to the sevens with Gordan Tietjens back in the day and jumped on the circuit for the last round in Bordeaux and in England.

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“It was a tough month training. I think I was weighing in at about 105 (kilograms) and then once I got on the circuit I was 99kgs. Such a great experience.

“You’ve seen a lot of sevens players come through the system in sevens and then obviously play for the All Blacks.

“I guess it’s easier really because you get your fitness up. Sevens is an elusive game and it’s not long,” he added.

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“Other than that, when you start playing 15s, especially at Super Rugby or international, you’ve got to try and cement your spot as a specialist in a position.”

The All Blacks Sevens are currently sixth on the SVNS Series standings as the circuit prepares for the fifth leg of the campaign in just a couple of weeks’ time.

“I was hoping my All Blacks boys would be here in the final in the end but all the teams are getting better and better,” Nonu said in LA.

For the last time at Hong Kong Stadium, the SVNS Series will head to one of the spiritual homes of the sport from April 5 to 7. Tickets for the Hong Kong Sevens can be bought HERE.

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1 Comment
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Euan 93 days ago

You missed out Damien McKenzie. He'd run rings around them.

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