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. 

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'He’s too valuable': Hansen says All Backs won't risk 'flattening' a sick Sonny Bill

Sonny Bill Williams is out of this Saturday's Rugby Championship Test for the All Blacks against the Springboks at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.

Williams was initially named on the bench in the All Blacks' 23 man squad, but hasn't recovered from tonsillitis he suffered earlier in the week.

Confirmed! Ma'a Nonu signs one year deal with Tana Umaga's Blues for 2019

"He's had tonsillitis all week and at the end of the day it was whether we chuck him out on the reserve bench and flatten him if he has to come on and play 80 minutes or take the risk and he only has to play 20," coach Steve Hansen said.

"In the end he's too valuable to do that to and we've got good replacements." 

He is replaced by teammate Jack Goodhue on the bench.

Williams hasn’t played since he injured his shoulder in the French Test series in June.

The All Blacks coach discussed the risks associated with SBW making his comeback to rugby off the bench against South Africa. Source: 1 NEWS


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'Had to convince them I was right' - Ryan Crotty says mum, sister support All Blacks return despite recent head knocks

All Blacks midfielder Ryan Crotty is raring to go for this weekend’s Test against the Springboks but he admits it took some convincing to get his mother and sister on board about the situation.

Crotty has returned from what is believed to be his sixth concussion in the last year to start in Wellington on Saturday after missing the last two Tests due to a head knock against the Wallabies in Sydney.

He told media today he knows he’s ready to come back and told his family the same thing.

“I’m really confident. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

“Like anyone’s mother and sister, they care about you as much as anyone and they tend to worry a bit more than anyone else as well – certainly more than myself.

“I’ve had to convince them I’m right but they’re fine and they’re excited I’m back out there doing what I love as well.”

Crotty’s sister Shea opened up on social media about her concerns over the chain of concussions last month.

“I know how frustrated he will be but for selfish reasons I want to see my brother grow old and able, not battling the brain forever.”

Crotty said the support from both inside and outside the team camp is pushing him forward though.

“It’s nice that the process they have around the team… honestly, there’s no stone left unturned on head injuries these days so the diligence gives you confidence.

“The support from the public is cool as well. I’ve felt the love.”

Crotty will start at second-five on Saturday night in his 39th cap for the team.

Crotty's sister shared her conerns about his string of concussions after getting knocked out last month. Source: 1 NEWS