Super Rugby sides give Ma'a Nonu the big fend

MARC HINTON
Last updated 05:00 25/08/2013
nonu
WILL HE OR WON'T HE?: Speculation is rife over the future of Ma'a Nonu.

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Ma'a Nonu remains an All Black without a home as the Hurricanes agonise over whether to find a place for the test star in their squad for next year.

The All Black second five-eighths has become a problem child at Super Rugby level after three consecutive troubled seasons for three different franchises.

The 31-year-old, who played his 81st test in last night's Bledisloe clash in the capital, is still contracted to the NZRU but has yet to settle on a deal for Super Rugby.

It's understood the Highlanders aren't particularly interested in getting him back after he failed to make a positive impact there this year. Nonu played for the Blues in 2012 and moved there after a public fallout with Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett in 2011.

The problem is, after three straight seasons of relative under-performance at Super Rugby level, New Zealand's five franchises are all reluctant to commit the sizeable chunk of salary cap they'd need to secure Nonu's services.

Plus, rightly or wrongly, he's perceived to be a bad influence in terms of team chemistry.

Given the franchise's reliance on NZRU financial backing over the years, it's hard to see how the Highlanders wouldn't take him back if directed to.

But the NZRU are reluctant to force the issue.

It's also understood Nonu, who has been removed from media duties with the All Blacks while the situation hangs over his head, is not keen to head back to Dunedin for another season.

Nonu's preference, and that of the All Blacks coaches, is for him to return to the Hurricanes. Wellington is his home, his family is most comfortable there and it's thought he would be best placed to replicate his test form at franchise level there where he'd be reunited with national team-mate Conrad Smith.

The All Blacks coaches are said to be peeved the situation has festered for as long as it has.

They were under the impression that the Hurricanes had agreed to take him back, and that it would have been resolved before now. They thought they had received agreement to that effect from the Canes.

But it seems Hammett is taking some convincing to reopen his doors to Nonu after he was so public in his reasons for cutting him loose in 2011.

It's thought neither the Chiefs nor Crusaders are interested in securing Nonu, while the Blues are content with their backline options for next season.

Whatever plays out, it's a situation the All Blacks are keen to see resolved sooner rather than later, as Nonu remains a key figure in their outstanding backline.

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