RugbyU: Blues open door to keep Nonu in New Zealand

RugbyU: Blues open door to keep Nonu in New Zealand

WELLINGTON - All Black Ma'a Nonu on Friday appeared to be on his way back to Auckland Blues following a year-long stand-off with the club after the Waikato Chiefs shut the door on the veteran centre.

The reigning champion Chiefs said they had filled their roster for the 2014 Super 15 season by signing former All Blacks fullback Mils Muliaina and Canterbury Crusaders centre Robbie Fruean.

Blues coach John Kirwan had previously shown no interest in Nonu after saying he was disappointed at the way he reneged on a handshake agreement and moved to the Otago Highlanders this year.

But with the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) keen to avoid his moving to France, where he is wanted by Clermont, Kirwan said Friday he and Nonu had buried the hatchet.

The Blues have one spot to fill in their squad, and after saying a year ago he "felt let down" by the way Nonu walked out on the team, Kirwan told Radio Sport he now wanted him back.

"We go way back. I like the man. I think that, as you can see by his form in the All Blacks, I think that to have him in the side would be a real asset."

Although the blockbusting centre regularly performs at his peak for the All Blacks, he has failed to shine at the Super 15 level.

He left the Wellington Hurricanes at the end of 2011 when told he did not fit their plans, walked out on the Blues last year and refused a contract extension with the Highlanders this season.

Neither Nonu nor the NZRU have commented on the Blues overture, but if if he moved to France it would create selection issues because of a policy limiting All Blacks selection to New Zealand-based players.

Muliaina said he is looking forward to returning to New Zealand after two years with Japan's NTT DoCoMo.

"I have really enjoyed my time in Japan... but I am grateful for the opportunity to play Super Rugby again in New Zealand for another team that I am passionate about," said the fullback, who has 100 caps for the All Blacks.

Chiefs coach Dave Rennie said Muliaina's versatility would enhance their bid for a third successive Super 15 crown.

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