Ma'a Nonu offering more questions than answers

MARK GEENTY
Last updated 05:00 29/07/2013
Ma'a Nonu
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
IN DOUBT: Ma'a Nonu limped off the field whilst playing club rugby over the weekend with an ankle injury.

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An update on Ma'a Nonu's All Blacks availability won't be available until at least Wednesday after he limped off the Hutt Recreation Ground on Saturday.

What remains even cloudier is his Super Rugby future after his return to Wellington rugby threw up more questions than answers.

The first choice second five-eighth will be named today in a 30-strong All Blacks training squad, minus Chiefs players, for a two-day camp in Auckland starting on Wednesday.

He'll be checked by medical staff.

His participation in the All Blacks' warm-up match against Wellington and Canterbury selections at Hutt Rec on August 9, as well as the opening Rugby Championship/Bledisloe test against Australia in Sydney on August 17, won't be determined until later in the week.

On the surface, Nonu's ankle injury appears minor.

He limped off in the 53rd minute of Oriental-Rongotai's Jubilee Cup semifinal win over Hutt Old Boys Marist after he rolled his ankle in the opening minutes.

It was strapped up on the outside of his boot until Ories coach Sandy McConnell had had enough.

"We decided not to persevere and wreck his ankle so we made a change," McConnell said.

"It's pretty swollen from what I've seen. He was struggling but he wasn't on crutches.

"He saw our physio and he checked it out and said ‘you don't need crutches and you don't need to take weight off it'. I'm hoping it's not too bad."

McConnell won't know if Nonu, or fellow All Black Julian Savea, will turn out in Sunday's Jubilee Cup final against Tawa until he hears from All Blacks management on Wednesday.

The club game was Nonu's first match since he was sent off for a spear tackle on Crusader Tom Marshall on June 29 and was a low-key affair.

He had little impact for his club before he was forced to depart the field.

Nonu, meanwhile, remained tight-lipped on his Super Rugby future and refused to answer questions on the subject.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett confirmed that the pair had talked last week but would not comment further.

Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni also had nothing to offer on the franchise's interest in Nonu, who was jettisoned by Hammett in 2011.

The Blues, Chiefs and Crusaders have all ruled out chasing Nonu's services for next season.

His time at the Highlanders may be over after coach Jamie Joseph recently said that he was resigned to the loss of Nonu.

That leaves the Hurricanes as the only franchise leaving the door ajar, should the midfielder re-sign with the New Zealand Rugby Union as expected.

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The Hurricanes have contributed nine players to the 30-strong All Blacks training squad who will assemble this week.

The Rugby Championship squad will be named on Sunday.

The Crusaders, beaten 20-19 by the Chiefs in Saturday's semi-final, also contribute nine players which includes returning skipper Richie McCaw.

All Blacks training squad to assemble in Auckland on Wednesday (Chiefs players not included):

Hookers: Dane Coles (Hurricanes), Andrew Hore (Highlanders), Keven Mealamu (Blues).

Props: Wyatt Crockett (Crusaders), Charlie Faumuina (Blues), Ben Franks (Hurricanes), Owen Franks (Crusaders), Tony Woodcock (Highlanders). Locks: Luke Romano (Crusaders), Jeremy Thrush (Hurricanes), Sam Whitelock (Crusaders).

Loose forwards: Steven Luatua (Blues), Richie McCaw (Crusaders), Kieran Read (Crusaders), Brad Shields (Hurricanes), Matt Todd (Crusaders), Victor Vito (Hurricanes).

Halfbacks: TJ Perenara (Hurricanes), Aaron Smith (Highlanders), Piri Weepu (Blues).

First five-eighths: Beauden Barrett (Hurricanes), Daniel Carter (Crusaders). Midfielders: Ma'a Nonu (Highlanders), Rene Ranger (Blues), Francis Saili (Blues), Conrad Smith (Hurricanes).

Outside backs: Israel Dagg (Crusaders), Charles Piutau (Blues), Julian Savea (Hurricanes), Ben Smith (Highlanders).

- The Dominion Post

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