Hurricanes, Nonu mend fences
Wellington - The New Zealand Rugby Union has asked the Hurricanes to look at mending fences with Ma'a Nonu in order to keep him playing in the country.
The 31-year-old is in Super Rugby limbo with four of New Zealand's five franchises seemingly uninterested in securing his services for 2014 after two years of insipid performances for the Blues and Highlanders.
Nonu does not appear interested in returning to the Highlanders, with coach Jamie Joseph all but writing off any chances of keeping him after he was presented with a new contract in April but has yet to sign it.
Nonu was cut loose by his hometown Hurricanes in 2011 when rookie coach Mark Hammett cleared out players he thought might disrupt rebuilding plans.
However, Hurricanes captain Conrad Smith, who has formed a successful partnership with Nonu for the national side, told reporters at an All Blacks training camp in Auckland on Wednesday that Hammett had been approached by the NZRU a month ago about taking the bullocking matchwinner back.
Hammett had then asked Smith his opinion, the centre said.
"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 New Zealand's capital, though that decision would need to be taken by those above 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 said.
Nonu met with Hammett last week to discuss his future and reporters in the rugby-mad country have suggested he will return to the Hurricanes, though will be asked to modify his behaviour.
His initial split with the Hurricanes was acrimonious with reports surfacing he had openly disrespected Hammett while disciplinary problems on the field through multiple penalties and regular yellow cards left fans frustrated.