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Nonu makes early impact back at the Blues

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Tuesday, December 18, 2018    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

New Blues coach and former All Black Leon MacDonald said Nonu had made an early impression with the reduced squad, especially with the All Blacks on their break. 

He had his head down and was trying to earn the respect of his teammates as a result of his work ethic. He had been working hard and imparting his experience to the younger players.

"They're benefiting from his involvement already," he said.

"He's come back with a really selfless attitude about contributing to this team which has been brilliant for us. He's rubbing shoulders with the young guys, he's doing a lot of skill work and he takes it upon himself to sit down with guys and give feedback.

"He's desperate for feedback from the coaching group and he wants to grow his own game. At the moment I think he's just taking it day by day and week by week and adjusting back to life in New Zealand. Rugby's a little different here to France and I think he's enjoying that with the sun on his back and the ball being moved around," he said.

MacDonald said it had been a hectic three weeks since the side assembled but they had got some good work under their belts while the coaching group had come together well and they were happy with the work they have got through so far.

"The priority was to get a cohesive coaching team together, aligned and really clear on the way we wanted to play the game and secondly getting to understand the team and the needs of the team. One of the other important things was getting the leadership group in place and being aligned with them," he said.

MacDonald said the new coaching group, with himself at the helm, and Tana Umaga and Tom Coventry filling the key roles underneath him, had started really well and that had made his job much easier.

"Overall I've been really pleased with the first three weeks," he said.

MacDonald has had an emphasis on getting into ball skills work as early as possible.

"When you've got three new coaches all wanting to put their game on the team leaving it until after Christmas is too late but the more we have the ball in our hands, with the fitness, it has got to be good for our fast game and it just makes sense to integrate them both," he said.

It was a good time of year to be preparing. The sun was on backs, we can get into a lot of work without the pressure of results hanging over our shoulders. We're building relationships, we're putting hard work in, we're understanding the way we want to play the game and we're trying to get ourselves fit and conditioned for the tough season ahead," he said.

The lack of a June international window and the break that usually provided for Super teams next year did not change the preparation for the side. What it did require was a level of fitness, across the squad, to make sure the side was ready to go throughout the campaign.