Nonu cen­tre of at­ten­tion

Ma’a Nonu was sen­sa­tional on Satur­day as the All Blacks crushed the French. Brendon Egan writes that the dread­locked one has stepped up when it mat­ters.

Kapi-Mana News - - FOOD -

Enough about Sonny Bill Wil­liams, it’s time to give Ma’a Nonu the plau­dits he de­serves.

The New Zealand me­dia have a love af­fair with the man with the chis­elled pecs, but it is Nonu who has taken his game to a new level since SBW ar­rived from French club Toulon last year.

Nonu’s form in the black jersey in the past two years has been noth­ing short of phe­nom­e­nal, with the dread­locked as­sas­sin now the premier sec­ond-five on the planet and New Zealand’s sec­ond-most in­flu­en­tial back af­ter Dan Carter.

When the All Blacks headed on their north­ern hemi­sphere tour late last year, Nonu was un­der pres­sure for his start­ing po­si­tion, with the drums beat­ing loudly for Wil­liams to be in­cluded in the mid­field along­side Con­rad Smith.

If any­thing, the threat of Wil­liams has brought out the best in Nonu. He was in sen­sa­tional touch for the All Blacks dur­ing this year’s TriNa­tions and has car­ried that form through to the World Cup, where he has been the team’s stand-out per­former in their open­ing two games, along with Jerome Kaino and Richard Kahui.

He is now an au­to­matic se­lec­tion in the No 12 jersey for the All Blacks, with SBW’s best chance of fea­tur­ing in the World Cup knock­out games now via the sub­sti­tutes bench or pos­si­bly on the wing.

Peo­ple talk about Carter, Richie Mc­Caw and a fit Kieran Read be­ing in­dis­pens­able to the All Blacks’ chances of win­ning the World Cup, and I think Nonu de­serves to be held in the same re­gard.

The rise, fall and rise of Nonu is a clas­sic tale.

Four years ago, his All Blacks ca­reer ap­peared on the rocks when he missed out on the 2007 World Cup and was weigh­ing up a switch to rugby league.

He de­serves im­mense praise for the way he has bounced back from that dis­ap­point­ment and has gone away and worked on his game to be­come the player he is to­day.

Nonu was a rough di­a­mond early in his All Blacks ca­reer, plagued by in­con­sis­tency.

He has man­aged to iron out those flaws and has be­come so de­pend­able it’s hard to re­mem­ber the last time he failed to have an im­pact in a big game for the All Blacks.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM/FAIRFAX ME­DIA NZ

Through again: Ma’a Nonu leaves French de­fend­ers and Jerome Kaino and Con­rad Smith in his wake as he busts the line of de­fence again on Satur­day.

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