Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph has jumped to the defence of embattled centre Ma'a Nonu after he was omitted from the Highlanders squad to tour South Africa and Australia.
Nonu has come in for some stiff criticism after an underwhelming start to the season, with some suggesting he does not deserve a spot in the All Black squad.
The 30-year-old missed Saturday's victory over the Sharks due to a knee injury and it has been decided that he would be best served remaining in Otago while his colleagues embark on a three-week tour.
Despite this, Joseph has given Nonu his full backing, insisting that a desire to return from injury too soon has hampered his charge.
"He injured himself at training after the first game and missed the next two, which we lost, so he felt compelled to come back and try to help the team," Joesph is quoted as saying by Sportal.
"But he was not really helping himself as he was not really right. But he put pressure on himself to try to help a team which was struggling.
"He has trained and played with a crook knee so we made the collective decision for him to have a breather and get it right."