Family ties draw Ma'a Nonu to Blues

TOBY ROBSON
Last updated 11:39 01/07/2011

Nonu signs with Blues

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Ma'a Nonu says the ''dream'' of representing his country stopped him from heading overseas, while his family were the main factor behind his decision to choose the Blues over other New Zealand Super Rugby franchises.

The All Blacks midfielder said today he'd been tempted by numerous offers to play off shore since his dramatic axing from the Hurricanes three weeks ago.

However, he had always come back to the same conclusion before deciding to recommit to New Zealand rugby for the next two years.

''Obviously over the last few weeks I've been thinking about my future and it's been hard at times, but I guess when times get tough you just have to get through it.

''I'm excited to be signing with New Zealand again. I love playing for my country and that's one of the main reasons why I stayed.

''I thought about it [going overseas] a few times, but as I said before I just can't leave New Zealand, not yet.

''It depends where you are in your career and in your life. It's a funny [feeling] when you want to move overseas, but talking to some of the old heads, old players who have moved overseas - it's more or less letting go of your dreams and that's playing for the All Blacks.

''It's stepping over to the other side. I've still got the chance to keep making that side... so that's the main reason [I stayed].''

Media were told beforehand Nonu wouldn't be discussing the circumstances around his departure from the Hurricanes where he clearly fell out with new coach Mark Hammett.

However, he did say he was ''grateful'' to the New Zealand Rugby Union to be given the option of taking a sabbatical and playing a season in Japan after the Rugby World Cup.

And he said his decision to choose the Blues ahead of interest from the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders was because it fitted better for his young family.

''Basically family reasons. I guess there are a few mates there. I had a few offers from the other franchises and just did what's best for my family.''

He would not be drawn on whether he would continue to play for Wellington, or change his provincial affiliation in the coming years.

''Not sure. You'd have to ask the Wellington coach. I guess there's young players in there.''

Nonu said he had spoken only ''briefly'' with Blues coach Pat Lam and was unsure if Sonny Bill Williams would join him at the franchise.

New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew conceded Nonu would need to manage his workload in Japan, but was confident it was the right place to do it.

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''It's definitely nowhere near as physical, although it will get a lot more physical with Ma'a arriving, than the footy we play here. It will freshen him up, different country, different sort of footy, different team managed by different people. 

''He'll get a bit of immersion in a corporate which is not a bad thing for him for life after footy.''

- Stuff

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