Ma'a Nonu's return to Hurricanes confirmed
Ma'a Nonu's return to the Hurricanes was confirmed today with new coach Chris Boyd expressing excitement at having the All Blacks star back in the capital.
Jettisoned from the Hurricanes by coach Mark Hammett in 2011 after playing 110 matches in the yellow jersey, Nonu endured an unsettled three years between the Blues and Highlanders.
The enigmatic second-five hasn't always produced his best at Super Rugby level despite being a test star, though there could be few complaints from his efforts and attitude at the Blues this season.
And that's all the Hurricanes were wanting from him as he linked up with them again now that Hammett has departed and Wellington coach Boyd has stepped up to the job.
"I coached Ma'a for the first time back in the early 2000s in the Wellington B team, so we have a long history together as a player and coach," Boyd said.
"I'm really looking forward to having him back in the environment and working with him again."
Nonu said he was thankful to the Blues for the support they had shown him, but also grateful to be coming back to the Hurricanes.
"I'm very happy to be heading home to the family again and am looking forward to the challenge ahead in 2015."
Hurricanes skipper Conrad Smith yesterday spoke positively of the input Nonu could provide though it was all about "how he fits in with the Hurricanes".
The 32-year-old Nonu, deep into a Super Rugby career that started back in 2003, was looking for a deal to coincide with next year's World Cup, then he was likely to explore offshore options, having already tinkered with the Japanese scene via a sabbatical.
His return south appeared timely for the Hurricanes with midfield backs Alapati Leiua and Tim Bateman heading offshore.
Nonu would leave a void in the Blues midfield. They have recent All Black Francis Saili and young Pita Ahki in development, but they will have to decide whether to stick with Jackson Willison or rely on utility value from the likes of Charles Piutau and George Moala to cover at centre.
Nonu's departure would be part of a painful review for the Blues who showed sings of improvement under Sir John Kirwan's second year in charge, but again failed to fulfil expectations, finishing 10th.