Home' The Wellingtonian : June 23rd 2011 Contents 23
THE WELLINGTONIAN, JUNE 23, 2011
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Farewell to Nonu and company
So long, farewell: Andrew Hore, left, and Ma'a Nonu say goodbye to fans after their final match for the Hurricanes.
Robbie Deans, not normally
given to flights of fancy,
once described Dan Carter
as the greatest player in rugby
history. That assessment seemed
a bit of a stretch in 2007.
Since then Carter has got bet-
ter, setting a world record for
most test points and adding
experience to his skills.
You would think with the much-
praised Carter on the field, other
players would have to take a back
seat, but that certainly wasn't the
case at the Wellington stadium on
The Crusaders played the
Hurricanes, and a crowd of 17,500
(a Wellington record for the
season by 5000) turned out,
despite grim weather.
They weren't there to see the
masterful Carter, or any of his
big-name Crusaders team-mates.
It was a chance to farewell sev-
eral Hurricanes stalwarts.
The captain, Andrew Hore, a
veteran of 10 seasons in the
Hurricanes jersey, was told
earlier this month he was no
So too was Ma'a Nonu, the
sturdy midfielder so closely ident-
ified with Wellington rugby.
Rodney So'oialo, Johnny
Schwalger and Neemia Tialata
closed their Hurricanes careers,
and backline stars such as Aaron
Cruden, Piri Weepu and Cory
Jane are weighing their options.
As Weepu said afterwards:
I'm not very clear what I want
to do. At the moment it's very
emotional, losing a couple of my
The axing of Nonu was the
biggest news in Wellington rugby
since Jonah Lomu announced he
would become a Hurricane in
So there was a special feeling
the other night.
There wasn't the tingling
atmosphere of that never-to-be-
forgotten evening in 2009 when
the All Whites qualified for the
football World Cup by beating
Bahrain, but there was still an
Every time Nonu got the ball,
the crowd buzzed.
Unfortunately for the locals, the
Crusaders' defence was so
organised and tight Nonu had few
chances to set the game alight.
I was stunned when I heard
Nonu and Hore had been dumped
by fledgling Super coach Mark
Hammett. They are quality
players, and the All Black coaches
don't seem to have trouble getting
the best out of them.
Perhaps it signalled a deficiency
in Hammett's coaching?
But let's think a little deeper.
The Hurricanes, despite all the
superb players they've had over
the years, have never won a Super
title. This season they've failed to
make even the expanded play-offs.
Listening to Hammett the other
evening, I could see what he was
He said the fortnight since the
announcement had been
extremely tough on him and his
family, since Wellington rugby
fans left him in no doubt what
they thought of Nonu's forced
I'm the culprit in their eyes. I
just have to take it,'' he said.
We are a passionate people and
we wouldn't want to lose that. But
there does need to be change.''
For all his shellacking,
Hammett remains adamant about
what he's done.
He said he had got to know the
players during the season.
I hope we hold on to some of
the guys [who are wavering].
I know their strengths and
weaknesses, and it's something to
The Crusaders rolled into Wel-
lington, took on a fired-up
Hurricanes side and did the busi-
ness professionally, even with one
eye on the play-offs.
It would be nice for Hurricanes
fans if their team could display
some of that clinical efficiency.
If Hammett, formerly a Cru-
sader, can bring that to the
Hurricanes, Wellingtonians will
forgive him for all his sins, even
the sacking of our man Ma'a.
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