Nonu relishing Toulon adventure

2015-11-23 22:03
Ma'a Nonu (Gallo Images)

Toulon - World Cup-winner Ma'a Nonu said he was looking forward to a fresh adventure as he arrived at new club Toulon on Monday.

Centre Nonu is set to make his debut at home to Agen in two weeks time and the New Zealand international says he relishes being part of the team that everyone wants to beat.

"I guess it comes with the success of this club, I guess everyone wants to beat Toulon," the 33-year-old said.

"The purpose for this club is to win again, I'm here to try my best for this club and I want to achieve things here as well."

Nonu said he had spoken to fellow All Blacks like Tana Umaga and Sonny Bill Williams about playing for reigning three-time European champions Toulon.

"I have a really close relationship with Tana Umaga who was here coaching and playing, Sonny Bill, I'm really close to Chris Masoe, who was here before, and I spoke to Matt Giteau after the rugby World Cup final," he added.

"They had lots to say about Toulon and the people, (they're) really nice. It's the place to play rugby in terms of fans being mad about rugby, and it's a really nice lifestyle for the family."

Giteau lined up opposite Nonu for Australia in the World Cup final but they will now likely be rivals for the inside centre position, although the Wallaby can also play at flyhalf, where his international teammate Quade Cooper will provide competition.

But there are also French internationals Mathieu Bastareaud and Maxime Mermoz vying for places in the midfield and Nonu knows competition will be tough.

"They're great international players: Bastereaud, I've seen him grow in the last four years. I was hoping he'd get more time at the World Cup.

"Giteau, I've played with for a long time over the last 10 years, he's been massive for this club.

"Mermoz as well, I've come up against him once. I really respect those guys."

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal suggested Giteau is untouchable, which means Nonu could find himself shunted out to 13 to accommodate Cooper and Giteau.

"If you look at Toulon's statistics with and without Matt Giteau, they're not the same. It's like comparing Barcelona's statistics with and without Lionel Messi," said the millionnaire comic book publisher.

Boudjellal, though, has impressed his latest star recruit with his attention to detail.

"Mourad has a great reputation in New Zealand. I'm humbled that Mourad actually picked me up from the airport today," said Nonu.

"I don't think any president has ever picked me up from the airport and brought me home."

Boudjellal said he'd had some difficulty in negotiating Nonu's arrival but despite his "pride" in attracting one of the world's best players, he insisted the former Hurricane still has everything to prove in the French Top 14 championship.

"He's a great player but we've never signed players for their past, just their future.

"His past is great, it's magnificent, but I hope what he'll do at Toulon will be top drawer. But we'll know once he starts playing."

Read more on:    toulon  |  ma'a nonu  |  rugby


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