It is all downward dog for Nonu
James Mortimer 09 Nov 2013 Getty Images
Skux, a slang term applied to a smart dresser who is popular with the opposite sex, is popular nickname for a player who once had a penchant for wearing eyeliner, but now has a firm appetite for physical domination.
As popular an All Black as ever, the fast smiling Nonu may be one of the first players little kids gravitate towards, while continuing to get gentle ribbing from his team-mates about his love for sharp threads – but on the field his presence has become a critical factor for the side’s success.
Now with 85-Test matches, Nonu’s 110kg are wrapped amongst a relatively short frame, but this gives him a hip bustling running style that is still to be countered.
Indeed, the secret to Nonu’s staying power is that unlike most ball carrying x-factor players, he has never really been worked out.
That, and the fact that the re-signed Blues back won’t just be smashing weights in the gym, but rather will be inhaling and exhaling, practicing his adho mukha shvanasana on a yoga mat.
This practice would certainly give substance to the simple fact that Nonu is among the most indestructible All Blacks of his time.
He rarely misses a match through injury, and he was one of a few World Cup winners who decided to keep playing rugby immediately following the tournament, with Nonu heading to the Ricoh Black Rams for a short stint.
Critics could add that Japanese club to a small list and suggest that is four domestic sides that Nonu has played for since 2011, but while his situation at one point was unprecedented; his value to the game and the All Blacks jersey cannot be challenged.
He is the most experienced New Zealand Test centre in history, the most capped second five-eighth, and only has Springboks captain Jean de Villiers challenging for the t-shirt that says ‘World’s best No.12’.
His future is no longer source of tabloid fodder.
“Now it's sorted, it feels just a relief,” he said.
Nonu likened his off field and playing realms as being different cupboards, and said he was a better player for his ability to know which clothes to wear, to follow the analogy.
“If you have two cupboards open, you don't know what you're going to wear tomorrow,” the 31-year-old said.
It is something that fits Nonu well.
He is engaging and one of the more upbeat presences, even though he is a hard training player who also, as the most experienced do, become trapped in their own place at times as the mentally prepare.
Now signed to the Blues for the next two Investec Super Rugby seasons, Nonu can focus on winning a title that has alluded him so far, with the 133-game veteran still to lift that competition’s trophy above his head.
If he can do that, and become part of an All Blacks team to create history and successfully defend a Rugby World Cup for the first time, one suspects that Nonu might be able to afford a bit of time to head back to Japan and learn more about a technique that could be why the former Rongotai College star has become one of the midfield greats.
For now without a man snapping at his heels, the likes of Francis Saili will grow, while there is the intrigue that lies with a certain Sonny Bill Williams.
If he does return to rugby in 2015, Nonu might be welcoming, but probably won't be taking him under his wing, but rather look to enforce what is a well earned reputation as one of our finest and most consistent, both in performance and fitness, centres ever to wear the famous black.
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