He may not be at today’s All Blacks foundation day, but don’t count veteran Blues midfielder Ma’a Nonu out just yet.
That’s the advice of Radio Sport commentator Nigel Yalden, who told TVNZ1’s Breakfast today the 36-year-old’s absence from today’s gathering in Wellington isn’t the final nail in the coffin for a comeback to international rugby.
"The thing with Ma’a Nonu is even if he’s not at a foundation day like they have today, he’s got all that experience," Yalden said.
"If there was a player who you’d think, 'right, we can just bring him in from outside, slot him in, knowing he’ll get up to speed with the systems, knowing the diligent way he goes about his job – that’s the guy I’m sure the All Blacks would have no problem into the system."
Nonu left New Zealand rugby for France after being part of the 2015 World Cup winning squad, taking with him 104 All Blacks Tests-worth of experience.
The midfielder has since returned to New Zealand this year with the Blues and proved despite his age, he can still power past defenders and set up tries like the Nonu of old.
Yalden admitted though that Nonu’s competitors were in fine form too.
"When you look at the five midfield players [the All Blacks] have at the moment, they are actually playing pretty well.
"Anton Lienert-Brown was very good on Saturday night, Ryan Crotty’s playing exceptionally well – so too Jack Goodhue. We’ve seen wonderful stuff from Ngani Laumape. We’ve seen less from Sonny Bill Williams because we haven’t seen the opportunity for him to play for a couple of reasons.
"But Ma’a is right there."
Yalden said even if Nonu doesn’t make the final squad, there’s always the chance of a call up once the team is in Japan.
"We know injuries do affect players in the game of rugby.
"We saw it at the World Cup in 2015 how Joe Moody was playing provincial rugby and he ended up playing in the semi final and final after there were injuries to Tony Woodcock and Wyatt Crockett.”
Today’s All Blacks foundation day in Wellington is the first of three camps.