'Petulant' Nonu provoked his dismissal, say reports

Star centre Ma’a Nonu’s shock sacking by the Hurricanes followed a campaign to undermine coach Mark Hammett, often in front of teammates, it was reported on Thursday.

Hammett announced on Wednesday that Nonu and fellow All Black veteran Andrew Hore would not be offered contracts for the 2012 Super 15 season but refused to reveal his reasoning, other than saying management wanted to “move on”.

Wellington’s Dominion Post reported that Nonu, who is set to play a key role in the All Blacks’ World Cup campaign later this year, refused to accept Hammett, who is in his first season as a Super 15 head coach.

It said Nonu questioned Hammett’s ideas in front of Hurricanes players at training and ignored the coach’s demands to end his on-field indiscipline which has cost the New Zealand team dearly during a disappointing season.

Despite Nonu’s improved late-season form, it said the final straw for Hammett was when the 54-Test All Black appeared to deliberately throw the ball at a touch judge in the Hurricanes’ 38-27 win over the Golden Lions on Saturday.

“Nonu’s was an act of petulance that may have rubber-stamped [Hammett’s] belief that there were certain players who would not, and could not, change,” it said.

Hurricanes chief executive James Te Puni said he had heard rumours about Nonu’s supposedly divisive nature before taking the role last February but they were not a deciding factor in letting him go.

“I’ve seen comments on that from the outside… prior to arriving at the Hurricanes, he’s probably best described as a mercurial character, but I don’t know him well enough to comment in detail,” he told Radio Sport on Thursday.

“He’s clearly a fantastic player and ironically, it’s been noted he’s playing very, very well in the last couple of weeks. Our view though is we’ve got a bunch of other midfielders who are coming through.”

The sackings have prompted an online backlash against Hammett from Hurricanes fans, many of whom were against his appointment because of his links to bitter rivals the Canterbury Crusaders.

“Forget the sacking of Nonu and Hore. Sack Hammett.
He’s ruined the Hurricanes,” was a typical comment on the TVNZ website.—AFP

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