All Blacks can't ignore Nonu
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: There is still a big chance Ma’a Nonu could be playing in the World Cup in Japan later this year.
The 36-year-old has been in great form the Blues this season, but he faces a tough task to make the All Blacks team with the likes of Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown and Sonny Bill Williams being the main contenders for World Cup places.
All those centres were named in the All Blacks’ 41-man foundation day squad earlier this week with Nonu being left out.
However, All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster said Nonu’s age will not count against him this year and that he will be solely judged on his performances.
“Age has never been a barrier,” Foster told Newstalk ZB’s Martin Devlin.
“He like everyone has just got to keep showing that his hunger levels are right and his skill levels are right. It’s a pretty competitive position in the midfield.
“But I think regardless of whether he makes a return to the All Blacks, hasn’t he done himself proud the way he has played.”
Foster has been impressed with Nonu’s form in Super Rugby.
“It’s going to be a challenge for him week in week out and I guess that’s a factor that we bring into play, but I mean there won’t be too many players at the World Cup who’ll play all seven games.
“[But] you never say never and I just have massive respect for the way he’s come back and put himself out there because he’s been a player that has taken a bit of flack around the franchises at times and he would’ve been susceptible to that to if he hadn’t played up to his top level.
“So, I think he’s doing himself proud and certainly reflecting a pretty confident Blues environment at the moment.”
The All Blacks will attend a one-day camp in Wellington next week. A second foundation day camp for North Island-based players will take place in Auckland in May and one for South Island-based players in Christchurch in June.
The players attending the foundation days are:
Forwards: Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Nathan Harris, Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Tyrel Lomax, Joe Moody, Angus Ta’avao, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Jackson Hemopo, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Samuel Whitelock, Sam Cane, Vaea Fifita, Shannon Frizell, Akira Ioane, Kieran Read, Ardie Savea, Liam Squire, Matt Todd and Luke Whitelock.
Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Beauden Barrett, Damian McKenzie, Richie Mo’unga, Ryan Crotty, Jack Goodhue, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo and Ben Smith.
Source: Newstalk ZB and New Zealand Herald