Ma’a Nonu re-joined the Blues squad yesterday along with the rest of the All Blacks, and while an injury will delay his return to the field, he’s excited about being back at the franchise.
The 31-year-old made the move back to the Blues for the 2014 Super Rugby season after playing for the Highlanders in 2013.
Following another impressive campaign with the All Blacks at the end of last year where he continued prove himself as the best midfielder in world rugby, Nonu said he was highly motivated to perform for the Blues.
“It’s good to be back, it’s exciting times and I can’t wait,” Nonu said.
“I’m pretty motivated, I’m really excited about the challenges ahead and I’m excited to be back in this group.”
However Blues fans might not see Nonu back on the playing field for another month.
The dreadlocked wrecking ball had a clean-up on his ankle at the end of last year and may miss the first couple of competition games.
“I had a bit of a tidy up in the off-season, I’m starting to run hopefully in the next couple of weeks at full speed and I just want to get things right and don’t want it injured again,” Nonu said.
And Nonu has the full backing of head coach Sir John Kirwan.
JK welcomed the All Blacks back into the fold yesterday and said, as with all the returning players, getting them in peak condition was the key priority.
“I want Ma’a to be well physically. His well-being is the most important thing so we’ll get him right and then we just want him to play when he’s ready. He wants to play but I’m just going to hold him back.”
Nonu’s split with the Blues in 2012 was highly publicised after he walked away from the franchise, but Kirwan said that was all water under the bridge and it was great to have him back.
“He’s been fantastic, his communication has been outstanding and he wants to play, it’s just that we need to make sure that he’s 100 per cent fit just like we do with everyone else in the team.”
Nonu conceded he was unsure whether Blues fans would embrace him after chequered seasons with the Hurricanes, Blues and Highlanders, but said he just had to do his talking on the field to win them back.
“I guess it’s been in the back of my mind. Hopefully 2014 will be a better year for me in Super Rugby. I can’t look back on previous experiences, I’ve just got to move on.
“I’m not sure (whether I’ll be embraced by Blues fans), I hope so. I’ve just got to perform on the field.”
The Blues play their first pre-season match against the Hurricanes in Masterton on Saturday (kick-off 3.00pm) with Benji Marshall poised to play his first game of rugby union at 10.
The team to face the Hurricanes will be named on Thursday.