RUGBY’S MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
posted on 22/09/2015 12:47:00 AM
MA’A NONU MADE HIS TEST DEBUT AGAINST ENGLAND IN 2003 AND WAS A PART OF THE 2011 WORLD CUP-WINNING ALL BLACKS TEAM. WITH 94 CAPS, HE IS RAPIDLY CLOSING IN ON 100 TESTS. IN APRIL 2015 HE CELEBRATED 150 SUPER RUGBY GAMES. THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE ACHIEVEMENT, HELD ONLY BY A SELECT FEW – AND HE WAS THE FIRST BACKLINE PLAYER TO DO SO. In another record (for an active player), Nonu scored his 50th Super Rugby try, against the Chiefs in May. As a player, Nonu has it all. He has mastered inside and outside Centre, positions that have distinct differences and require specific skills and expertise. He is 33 years old, which seems irrelevant given the supremacy of his form. Remarkably, Nonu and his All Blacks and Hurricanes team-mate Conrad Smith hold a record partnership of 50 Tests and 50 Super Rugby matches in the centres. They’re like the Rodgers and Hammerstein of rugby, writing their own magnificent records to a player-perfect tune.
Nonu may be at the top of the game but he never expected as much. He understands the symbolism and power of the All Black spirit and whilst the World Cup win is an obvious highlight, he considers just making the team as his greatest achievement. When he first came onto the rugby radar, Nonu was cited for his incredible explosive power. That power remains a potent part of his game - yet Nonu could never have settled on being an exciting, powerful, raw player. He has spent his career fine-tuning and expanding his repertoire. He has developed his skills and techniques to display incredible ball skills – including the ability to unload perfect passes with one hand, a fearsome defence, a fine boot and an enviable line-breaking record! What’s more, he has that elusive quality, an instinct that has him always one step ahead of most players.
Nonu has an understated, though deadly, determination. He doesn’t regard the brief, six-week period at the end of the season as an “off-season”. Rugby for him is pretty much a 12-month job. This type of commitment highlights the importance of attitude in scaling the heights.
In fact, the beginning of 2015 marked the first pre-season training Nonu has done in about seven years. It was a consequence of having endured a broken arm during a Test match against South Africa in September 2014. The sizeable and relatively fresh scar on his forearm is testament to the severity of this fracture.
Most commentators have hailed Nonu’s superb form this season and his team, the Hurricanes, finished the Super Rugby season first overall. One wonders how Nonu managed to return to form so quickly and successfully.
To read more, purchase Men's Muscle & Health | Issue 12 on sale 8th October 2015
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