Yoga works a treat for powerhouse Ma'a Nonu

MARC HINTON IN PARIS
Last updated 05:00 09/11/2013
Ma'a Nonu
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SECRET ROUTINE: Ma'a Nonu says Yoga is an important part of his fitness regime.

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Close your eyes and picture it. Ma'a Nonu on the yoga mat. Stretching and flexing and straining to his heart's content.

But don't laugh. The powerhouse All Blacks second five-eighths - back talking to the media after nearly a season under the cone of silence - has a secret for us all. If you want to last the distance in test rugby, yoga is an essential part of the weekly routine.

Nonu has been nigh on an ever-present for the All Blacks over the past six seasons. In a sport of such shuddering collisions, with a style of unflinching directness, it's remarkable how injury-free and consistent he's been.

His secret? "The key is recovery physically. I always get tested mentally in terms of my performance, and that's what drives me. I like to prove people wrong and always want to stay on the track.

"I do a bit of yoga - that's what helps. I've been doing it for five years, and really get into it. You should try it, it's really good."

Sure, it helps that he's built like the Terminator - 1.82m and 106kg - and that chip on his shoulder sure stokes the motivational fires. But yoga is clearly doing the trick for a guy whose standards for the All Blacks are unerringly good.

He's also got plenty of respect for the French midfield combination of Florian Fritz and Wesley Fofana - a Nonu clone - with whom he and Ben Smith will do battle tomorrow.

"In June I thought they probably outplayed us, and it's going to be tougher this week at their home. They're big, solid guys and we have to make our tackles. Defensively they're pretty sound and they're pretty physical front on, and not scared to run straight.

"It's going to be a good battle."

Nonu, about to earn his 86th test cap, says it's too early to accurately evaluate his new partnership with Ben Smith, but feels they might have a better idea after this weekend.

Meantime, he's just enjoying doing what he's doing in a team that's always brought the best out in him.

"I enjoy playing for this team. It's an honour and every time I get a chance I do the best I can. It's about performance and putting everything on the track. It's what we love."

Nonu has his critics, but says everything he proves is to himself.

"It's life, you only get one chance at it, so you do the best you can," he said, with surprising wisdom.

In terms of settling his future - he's back with the Blues, and kicking on through to 2015 - he admitted it was a relief to have that distraction sorted.

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"During the Rugby Championship I had to put it aside, and put this team first in terms of playing well. I didn't really need to juggle it. But now it's sorted it's a relief."

- Fairfax Media

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