Nonu valuable to any team, says Joseph
Head coach Jamie Joseph has indicated he would welcome All Black midfielder Ma'a Nonu back to the Highlanders next year.
There has been intense speculation since about which franchise Nonu will play for next year but Joseph has no intention of turning his back on him.
"Ma's got a lot of thinking to do," he said. "He had a very good All Black campaign in June but now that he has to take time out I'm sure that he will be thinking about his future.
"Ma'a is a quality player, isn't he? Any team which has the opportunity to take him on board would."
Faced with the loss of outside backs Hosea Gear, Tamati Ellison and Kade Poki, Joseph would welcome the retention of Nonu to provide continuity to a team which will have a lot of new faces next season despite his less than distinguished campaign this year.
Joseph said he was disappointed stalwart prop Jamie Mackintosh was moving to the Chiefs.
"There was an opportunity for him to stay here. He had a contract in front of him. Whoppa [Mackintosh] wants more game time and, if he thinks he can get that the Chiefs, good on him."
Joseph's immediate focus is for the Highlanders to salvage some pride against the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night after their 12-40 loss to the Crusaders in Dunedin last week.
"Quite a few of our guys are from Wellington and they'll relish the chance to play on what was their home ground in front of their families.
"The conditions don't look good so we'll have to see how that pans out and adjust our tactics accordingly."
TJ Ioane, Joe Wheeler and Jake Paringatai are the options to replace the suspended Jarrad Hoeata at blindside flanker.
Elliot Dixon seems certain to retain the No 7 jersey with John Hardie still recovering from a knee injury.
The other specialist opensider Tim Boys returned to action in a club game last weekend but pulled a hamstring and is not available.
The Highlanders have won eight of their previous 20 matches against the Hurricanes and lost 19-23 when they met in Dunedin in round five this season.