Super Rugby: Chiefs downplay interest in Ma'a Nonu

The former All Blacks midfielder has been linked to the Chiefs after returning home from France.
The former All Blacks midfielder has been linked to the Chiefs after returning home from France. Photo credit: Photosport

Chiefs coach Colin Cooper is playing down any rumours that former All Blacks midfielder Ma'a Nonu will sign with the franchise for the 2019 season.

Nonu left French club Toulon in May for "family reasons", and he is looking to resume his rugby career in New Zealand next year before hanging up his boots.

The 36-year-old has previously been linked with a return to the Hurricanes, a team he played 126 games for, but they have ruled out making a play for him.

Cooper coached Nonu during his tenure at the Hurricanes between 2003 and 2010, so there is a tight bond between both parties. Nonu also had brief stints at the Blues and Highlanders.

On top of that, the Chiefs are on the hunt for midfield players for next season with Charlie Ngatai, Tim Nanai-Williams both leaving for France while Johnny Fa'auli is reportedly heading to Japan.

Speaking to reporters at the captain's run ahead of the Chiefs' quarter-final against the Hurricanes, Cooper denied the rumours - mostly.

"No, we haven't talked about that," Cooper said when asked about Nonu.

"I'm just saying we haven't been discussing it. I'm not saying no or yes.

Super Rugby: Chiefs downplay interest in Ma'a Nonu
Colin Cooper.
Colin Cooper. Photo credit: Photosport

"Our whole focus is this quarter-final, and those sort of discussions don't come into it. That's the conservativeness in me; it's week by week, don't lose your focus, bring it all this Friday night."

After losing their opening match of the season, the Hurricanes went on to win 10 straight, but they have since been brought back to earth with four losses in their last five games, one of which was against the Chiefs.

Captain Sam Cane said he isn't reading too much into the Hurricanes' poor form.

"Personally, I wouldn't be looking into that at all. It's rugby and they are playing at home and whoever fronts up big time come kick-off will have the advantage," said Cane.

The Chiefs have won four of their last five games.

"Yeah that can help like a little bit of momentum leading into play-offs but that is certainly not be all and end all."

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