Stanley's head start on Nonu

2011-11-28 14:00

Auckland - Blues midfielder and former All Black Benson Stanley is looking forward to putting his history of concussions behind him and embracing the arrival of arguably the world’s best inside centre.
According to the website, Stanley, who has suffered a series of head knocks in recent times - including two in the space of three months - will return to rugby after taking leave to recover and essentially give his 'brain' a bit of time out.

He had earlier raised the possibility of early retirement, but recent tests have cleared him to continue his career.

"There were nerves about the test,” he said.

“There's certainly relief there, not having it hanging over my head. I'm happy the brain has recovered.”

Blues doctor Stephen Kara said Stanley - who played three Tests for the All Blacks last year - was well aware of the risks.

"He's going in with his eyes wide open," Kara said.

"He's realistic about the fact I can't promise it's not going to happen again. I can't tell him he won't have symptoms should it happen again.

The Blues have begun their Super Rugby pre-season training, sans their Rugby World Cup winning All Blacks, and specialist inside centre Stanley will have menacing competition for his place in the form of Ma'a Nonu.

Nonu, who is currently in Japan playing with the Ricoh Black Rams, will link up with the Blues later in the season, giving Stanley something of a head start in trying to secure his position as the Blues starting No 12.

Nonu is already forming an eye-catching combination with another Black Rams Kiwi in Tamati Ellison, and remarked after a match that the overall quality of the game in Japan was high.

"It (against Yamaha) was a physical game and felt really fast,” Nonu said.

“But that is what I expected from the Japanese league. It was very similar to Super Rugby."

Stanley has said he might need to consider a position switch to outside centre if Nonu locked down the Blues inside centre position.

"I haven't played a lot of outside centre," Stanley said.

"It's an unfamiliar position. Twelve is where I love playing but it's tough when you've got someone like Ma'a coming in.

"There's a significant difference between second and centre but it's nothing to be scared of. It's a challenge you've got to embrace. Centre is one of the toughest positions going around."