Ma’a Nonu will return to Auckland to play for the Blues next season in Super Rugby after three years on the Cote d’Azur with Toulon.
The two-time World Cup champion with the All Blacks left the Top 14 side earlier this summer citing ‘family reasons’ behind his decision to leave.
Having shifted Reiko Ioane inside from the wing to the midfield last season, Blues head coach Tana Umaga welcomed the looming return of the veteran centre after a campaign which saw his side left in the wake of their dominant New Zealand rivals, the Crusaders, Hurricanes and Chiefs.
“Our review showed that our backline, while talented and exciting, lacked an experienced figure on a regular basis in the midfield due to injury,” Umaga said.
“Next season will throw up some other challenges with a new format without the international break. And players in line for the World Cup, like Sonny Bill Williams, will likely be monitored more closely.
“We think Ma’a can play an important role for us and I am sure he can deliver on the field as well as help guide our young players.”
The Blues will welcome back 36-year-old Nonu for a third stint at Eden Park, once as a midfield partner of Umaga, off the back of losing 12 matches out of 16 during the recent Super Rugby season.
Capped 103 times during his All Blacks career, Nonu said, “I know the Blues have had some tough times in the last few seasons but I am excited to play with some of the young and up-and-coming players who will have long careers and rejuvenate this place.
“And I am looking forward to be under the watchful eye of Tana who was a mentor when I was coming through, so I am looking forward to doing my best for him and the franchise.”