Ma'a Nonu just wants to get on with rugby

LOGAN SAVORY
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013
Ma'a Nonu
MAARTEN HOLL/Fairfax NZ
POSITIVE OUTLOOK: Ma’a Nonu is aiming to put two forgettable Super Rugby seasons behind him with a strong showing for the Highlanders.

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Ma'a Nonu isn't all that fussed about dwelling on the past any more and instead is ready to turn the page to another chapter tomorrow when he takes to the field for the Highlanders in Oamaru.

To say the All Black midfielder's past two Super Rugby campaigns have been a disaster would probably be an understatement.

In 2011, as part of the Hurricanes, it all went pear-shaped when the team underperformed and coach Mark Hammett gave Nonu the boot.

Nonu wanted to stay with the Hurricanes for the 2012 season but Hammett felt they were better off without the All Black - the reasons centred on attitude.

From there he linked with the Auckland-based Blues franchise, but it didn't get a lot better.

His Super Rugby days turned just as sour there as the Blues capitulated last season to a four win-12 loss record.

Nonu was poor at the start of the season but his form did get better.

This time the Blues did want him back under new coach John Kirwan, despite his indifferent form.

After initially saying he would go back to Auckland, instead he signed with his third franchise in three years - the Highlanders.

Nonu has maintained the stance that "it is in the best interests of his family," but it seems the Blues' setup didn't win him over.

"It's good to have another chance for me to play Super Rugby and to play for another franchise, considering I had a poor season last year with the Blues. But I don't really want to talk about that," he told The Southland Times yesterday. "I wouldn't say it's a fresh start rugby-wise but the lifestyle and new venues are fresh.

"I think under the circumstances [in] the last two seasons there were factors surrounding why, how, what, in those franchises, but you know how it went, I'm here now and I'm not going to look back."

Nonu is looking forward to pulling on the Highlanders jersey for the first time and squaring off against the Crusaders in a pre-season outing in Oamaru tomorrow.

Many are predicting big things from the Highlanders this season, and Nonu said it was nice to join an organisation that had made some good progress in recent seasons.

"[Coach] Jamie's [Joseph] enhanced the team in the last two seasons," he said.

"They proved a lot of people wrong; they've played some excellent rugby in the last two years.

"They've built a nice team and they know what they want to play for: they play for each other.

"I'm hoping to add to that."

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- The Southland Times

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