NZRU approached Hurricanes about signing Nonu

All Black centre Conrad Smith has confirmed that the New Zealand Rugby Union approached the Hurricanes about re-signing Ma’a Nonu for the 2014 Super Rugby season.

Smith says that Hurricanes coach Mark Hammet spoke to him almost one month ago in order to get his opinion on Nonu returning to the Wellington-based franchise.

“I was asked about it (by Mark Hammett) about a month ago before it became a popular story and I just said in terms of playing I’d love to have him here but I was aware and appreciated there was a bigger picture,” Smith told 3News.

“He said the NZRU had approached them, so the issue had not come to a head at that stage but they had obviously been sounded out and he just wanted to get my opinion,” Smith said.

“It was literally a two-minute conversation. I can honestly say I don’t know where it’s got to or where it’s at.”

Smith said he would welcome Nonu back in Wellington but added that the decision was up to him.

“It is pretty unique and I don’t think it will happen a lot but I am optimistic it will get to a good conclusion, just a few things have to be worked through in the meantime,” he told Reuters.

The Crusaders, Blues and Chiefs have already stated that they do not want to sign Nonu for next season. The Highlanders offered him a contract month ago but he has not signed it which only leaves the Hurricanes.

In 2011 Nonu was dropped by Hammett at the Hurricanes and played for the Blues in 2012 and then the Highlanders in 2013. However Nonu has failed to impress in the last two years.

Nonu performed well for the All Blacks in June this year and helped them to a 3-0 whitewash of France which indicates the Nonu can play at a much higher level in the right environment.

Nonu did not appear to be happy with the Highlanders and his season ended on a low point as he was sent off for an illegal tackle against the Crusaders on June the 29th which caused him to miss the last two Super Rugby matches on the Highlanders calendar.

The 79-Test back has not held further discussions with the Highlanders but chief executive Roger Clark told The Otago Daily Times that his contract won’t be renewed.

Clark confirmed that they had offered the thirty-one-year-old a contract in April and received no response.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett confirmed that he has met with Nonu last weekend but refused to comment about what was discussed.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen said earlier this week that he hoped that Nonu would be signed by the Hurricanes.


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