Surgery rules Nonu out of season start
All Blacks centre Ma'a Nonu is set to miss the opening rounds of the new Super Rugby season as the Blues ease him back into action after ankle surgery.
The 31-year-old, who starts a new season with a new team for the third team in four years, went under the knife during the offseason for a clean-up on a long-term ankle injury that troubled him in 2013.
With the 88-Test international and Blues coach Sir John Kirwan having worked out their differences, Nonu has returned to the Auckland franchise where he joined his fellow All Blacks in their first training session since their extended break on Tuesday.
Kirwan confirmed that Nonu will be not be involved in the pre-season build up and is unlikely to feature in the opening game against his former team, the Highlanders, on February 22 as he is given a chance to get back to full fitness.
"I want him to be well physically, and his wellbeing is the most important thing," said Kirwan.
"We just need to get him well first and put him out when he's ready. He wants to play, but I'm going to hold him back."
Nonu's split with the Blues was highly publicised after he walked away from the franchise, reneging on a handshake deal to return for Kirwan's debut season in 2013, but the coach said that was all water under the bridge.
"His communication has been outstanding and he wants to play," added Kirwan.
"As far as I'm concerned every communication I've had with him since he re-signed has been fantastic. He's done everything he needs to do, but he's coming off a little ankle cleanup, and we just need to make sure he's 100 percent fit."
Nonu said he was highly motivated to perform for the Blues and a poor Super Rugby season last year.
"It's good to be back, it's exciting times and I can't wait," said Nonu.
"I'm pretty motivated, I'm really excited about the challenges ahead and I'm excited to be back in this group."
The former Hurricane conceded he was unsure whether Blues fans would embrace him after chequered past.
"I guess it's been in the back of my mind. Hopefully 2014 will be a better year for me in Super Rugby. I can't look back on previous experiences, I've just got to move on," he explained.