Nonu must meet Toulon’s standards

Date published: November 25 2015

Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal has warned new signing Ma'a Nonu that he will not be able to rest on his laurels at the triple European champions.

The 33-year-old, who won 103 Test caps for New Zealand, has called time on his international career having signed a two-year deal with the Top 14 heavyweights.

Although one of the outstanding centres of his generation on the international stage, the two-time World Cup winner has often failed to produce the same barnstorming displays at club or franchise level with disappointing Super Rugby stints at the Highlanders and Blues blights on his career.

Boudjellal was delighted to unveil his newest star signing this week but insisted that the past counts for nothing at RCT. 

"He is a world champion and a big signing for Toulon Rugby Club. He is a great player," said Boudjellal.

"His past achievements are very good – magnificent. But we never sign a player for his past achievements, but for his future. I hope what he does here will be up to Toulon's standards."

Nonu is not assured of a starting place in the Toulon side, with Wallabies centre Matt Giteau and French stars Mathieu Bastareaud and Maxime Mermoz amongst the midfield options.

Giteau, who has become a key cog in the Toulon machine, is Nonu's main rival for the number 12 jersey and Boudjellal went so far as to compare the Australian playmaker to Barcelona's Argentine soccer legend Lionel Messi.

Giteau can play fly-half, but with Quade Cooper and James O'Connor also pushing for places in the backline, Nonu's arrival will create significant midfield competition.

"If you look at Toulon's statistics with and without Matt Giteau, they're not the same," said Boudjellal.

"It's like comparing Barcelona's statistics with and without Lionel Messi."

Nonu insists he is up to the task and is targeting silverware in Toulon, not a pre-retirement vacation as he embarks on a new chapter in his career. The rampaging centre says the success of defending the World Cup has not dampened his desire for reaching new goals and is motivated by the challenge of playing in Europe.

"A lot of good players I've played against are playing here and I'm looking forward to playing alongside them," said Nonu.

"I've seen Bastareaud grow in the last four years, I was hoping [France would] give him more time at the World Cup," 

"Giteau, I've played against him the last 10 years and he's been great for this club, and Mermoz as well.

"With the success of this club, everyone wants to beat Toulon and the purpose for this club is to win again. I'm here to try my best for this club and I want to achieve things here as well."