Nonu returning to play for Blues

Ma'a Nonu. Photo NZPA
Ma'a Nonu has signed back on to play for the Blues.

All Blacks centurion Ma'a Nonu is back with the Blues.

The 36-year-old has signed a one-year deal with the Auckland Super Rugby franchise, returning to franchise for whom he played for in 2012 and 2014.

The 103-test All Blacks midfielder has been playing in France since retiring from international rugby after the 2015 Rugby World Cup, spending three years at Toulon before leaving in May due to family reasons.

He will link up with the Blues for the 2019 Super Rugby season, being set to be a veteran presence as the struggling franchise look to bounce back from a 2018 season where they finished in 14th place, with just four wins from 16 games.

Nonu said he was grateful for the opportunity to play for the Blues again.

"Hopefully next year will be a year to build and to be successful. That is the challenge I am looking forward to.

"I know the Blues have had some tough times in the last few seasons but I am excited to play with some of the young and up-and-coming players who will have long careers and rejuvenate this place.

"And I am looking forward to be under the watchful eye of Tana who was a mentor when I was coming through, so I am looking forward to doing my best for him and the franchise."

Nonu says he will bring his experience to the club and its young players.

"I have been playing rugby a long time. I've known first-hand the highs and the lows of a playing career on and off the field and I am looking forward to giving my best and proving that I can still play at this level."

Blues coach Tana Umaga hailed the signing.

"Our review showed that our backline, while talented and exciting, lacked an experienced figure on a regular basis in the midfield due to injury,"

"Next season will throw up some other challenges with a new format without the international break. And players in line for the World Cup, like Sonny Bill Williams, will likely be monitored more closely."

Umaga said that included the likes of Rieko Ioane, who he wants to see back in his likely All Black position on the wing as a priority in preparation for the Rugby World Cup.

"We think Ma'a can play an important role for us and I am sure he can deliver on the field as well as help guide our young players," he said.

 

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