Steve Hansen has been as impressed as anyone at Ma’a Nonu’s form on his return to New Zealand rugby with the Blues, and says a place in the World Cup squad is possible for the 36-year-old.
Nonu scored twice in Saturday’s narrow loss to the Chiefs in Hamilton, steamrolling a number of rivals in an inspired second-half showing.
A two-time World Cup winner, his chances of adding a third appeared over when he left for France.
However, he returned early from Europe and has showed glimpses of his old form this season.
He wasn’t at today’s so-called foundation day in Wellington as it was for players involved in last season’s Super Rugby competition, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t be on the plane to Japan later in the year.
Hanson said he was impressed with the veteran centre’s form this season.
“He’s just Ma’a, isn’t he?” he told reporters.
“You get the subtle touches and the brutality.”
He said the midfield was an area where there would be plenty of competition, but Nonu was staking his claim strongly.
“None of us knew what he would be like when he came back. I just like the fact he’s been brave enough to come back, and he’ll be considered like everybody else.
“We know he can play Test rugby. He’s just got to show us he’s got the ability to do that on a weekly basis at Super level, then we have to make decisions.”