Watch: Counties Manukau unveil special jerseys for clash with Wellington in honour of Jonah Lomu

Jonah Lomu will be remembered on Saturday by his former province Counties Manukau when they take on another of the legendary All Blacks’ former teams, Wellington.

The Steelers have unveiled a special Jonah Lomu memorial jersey for their clash with the Lions when the two sides meet in Pukekohe.

Some of the 63-Test All Black's old teammates dropped in on Steelers training today to help with the unveiling and remember their friend.

“It’s a great time for Counties rugby,” former winger Joeli Vidiri said.

The jerseys, including the No.11 which will be worn by Tevita Nabura, will be auctioned off for charity after the game.

The late All Blacks legend played for both provinces. Source: 1 NEWS


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'It’s awesome to be back!' Grinning Rieko Ioane wasting no time reclaiming All Blacks' starting wing spot

Ma'a Nonu may steal a bit of his thunder for the Blues' opener next season, but Rieko Ioane is still this weekend's big ticket in Wellington.

Back in the side after a few weeks recovering from a hamstring niggle, winger Ioane can't wait to clash with the Springboks at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.

"It's always tough watching the other boys playing, but it's awesome to be back."

"I'm still fairly new to this environment, but as a kid it's always been the black jersey, and just having the opportunity to do that week in week out."

The 21-year-old has been able to step up from the 80 per cent he's been operating at for the past few weeks to prepare for Saturday night although as Ryan Crotty explained, even at that level, he can still move.

"His eighty per cent is like half of our hundies!"

Both were named to start by coach Steve Hansen this morning but Crotty admits his road back to black has been more assiduous this time after his sixth concussion in a year.

"Been extremely diligent around this last one. I'm really confident. If I wasn't I wouldn't be here.

“I'm really excited to be back playing and just can't wait to get back out there in the Test match arena."

He'll pair up with Anton Lienert-Brown, who's been rewarded with a rare starting spot after impressive cameos off the bench.

Even accounting for injuries to the likes of Brodie Retallick and Sonny Bill Williams, Saturday's All Blacks look almost as formidable as any since the last World Cup.

And with a perfect record in 2018 at the Westpac Stadium to protect, expect Ioane and co to give nothing less than a hundred percent.



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Watch: Steve Hansen responds to Lima Sopoaga's All Blacks exodus comments

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has responded to comments made by former first-five Lima Sopoaga about a potential rise in young talent heading off shore for big paychecks.

“If they go, they go with our blessings and we’ll always support them.”

Sopoaga caught the global rugby community’s attention yesterday after he said more players were “wising up” to taking big deals in Europe rather than staying in New Zealand to chase the All Blacks dream.

"For a lot of guys like myself, who come from big families, from low socio-economic backgrounds the chance to change your family's life is pretty overwhelming.

"It's not something you should take lightly and sometimes the jersey is not enough for a better life.”

Hansen admitted when he did catch wind of players looking at overseas offers, he tried to convince them to stay.

“We’ll always understand that people are going to go overseas – particularly some of the Pacifika boys who are supporting more than themselves.

“Do we like it? No, I don’t like it when I lose some of the guys that can be a real benefit for the team because my job is to make this team as strong as possible, so I’m going to try and talk them out of it if I can.”

Hansen admitted he and New Zealand Rugby are doing more to try and deter players from heading offshore.

“We don’t have a commercial base like a lot of other places so we’ve got to try and create an environment where the players are well looked after.

“We’ve got to try and prolong their careers so maybe they don’t have to go overseas to get that big lump of money – they could play another four or five years here and get the same money.

“We’ve got to keep thinking of ways and means of keeping this big machine going because it isn’t going to keep going by itself.”

The All Blacks coach said he is trying to implement ways of keeping top Kiwi talent in NZ. Source: 1 NEWS


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Watch: 'Looking forward to proving I can still play this level' - Ma'a Nonu speaks after signing with Blues

Returning Blues midfielder Ma'a Nonu is under no illusion he will have to prove himself in next year's Super Rugby season.

The 36-year-old is rejoining the Auckland franchise in 2019 after returning from a playing stint in France where he played three seasons for Top 14 club Toulon.

"I have been playing rugby a long time. I’ve known first-hand the highs and the lows of a playing career on and off the field and I am looking forward to giving my best and proving that I can still play at this level," he 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."

Nonu played 103 Tests for the All Blacks, with his last being the World Cup final win in 2015.


Confirmed! Ma'a Nonu, 36, signs with the Blues, wants to transform them into winners

Ma'a Nonu is returning to the Blues.

The Chiefs coach said he's focused on the team's quarter-final, not speculation regarding Nonu.
Source: 1 NEWS

The 36-year-old All Blacks great, who played two seasons for the Blues in 2012 and 2014, is returning to the franchise on a one-year deal next season.

A source close to Nonu confirmed the deal to 1 NEWS before a formal statement was released by the franchise later in the afternoon.

"Hopefully next year will be a year to build and to be successful. That is the challenge I am looking forward to," Nonu said in the statement.

"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."

He's set to team up with good friend Sonny Bill Williams in the midfield, in a combustible backline also featuring Rieko Ioane on the left wing.

It's a huge coup for Umaga, who needs a playoff-run to stay on as coach.

"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 head coach said.

Nonu played 103 Tests for the All Blacks, with his last being the World Cup final win in 2015.

He left Toulon after three seasons for personal reasons earlier this year.

"I have been playing rugby a long time. I’ve known first-hand the highs and the lows of a playing career on and off the field and I am looking forward to giving my best and proving that I can still play at this level."

It's not known if he'll be available for the All Blacks, with 2019 - next year - also being a World Cup year.