Nonu desperate for victory
Highlanders centre Ma'a Nonu is desperate for his side to end their losing streak and beat his old team, the Blues, in Auckland on Friday.
Defeats to the Chiefs (twice), Cheetahs, Hurricanes and Reds mean the Dunedin-based franchise are currently rooted to the bottom of the table and are the only side without a win in the tournament - something which Nonu is determined to change this weekend.
"Five losses in a row is not a great feeling," he told Yahoosport.
"As a professional rugby player you go through battles of winning and losing and it's not nice to keep losing."
The veteran of 73 All Black Tests said the Highlanders were still high on confidence despite their poor start to the season.
"You can always take a positive out of games but the missed opportunities have been costly. You've just got to make it happen.
"I have to look at my own performance and keep getting better. Hopefully I'm improving. I'm trying to get over a knee injury but I can't blame it on that."
Nonu has shown steady improvement since returning from injury and wants to continue when he faces the Blues, a franchise he represented last year after leaving the Hurricanes acrimoniously in 2011.
"I need to step it up again this week," he added.
He dismissed suggestions that he has become the "Nonu curse" with the Highlanders, Blues and Hurricanes all battling in the tournament in the past three seasons.
"I'll take it on the chin and see what I can do about it," he said.
"My job is to play footy and sometimes things don't happen the way you want and you've just got to take it."
Fellow All Blacks centre Tamati Ellison is set to return to action earlier than expected after a shoulder operation - he is targeting the clash against the Sharks in Dunedin on May 4 for his comeback - and Nonu is excited about the prospect of teaming up in the Highlanders midfield with him.
"Tams is an exceptional player and we're missing his expertise in terms of the glue he brings to the backline," said Nonu.