Ma'a Nonu joins Auckland Blues

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — All Blacks center Ma'a Nonu has been signed by the Auckland Blues on a two-year contract after being sacked by the Wellington Hurricanes during the Super 15 rugby season.

The 29-year-old Nonu will play for the Japanese club Ricoh Black Rams on a short sabbatical after the World Cup final in October before returning to New Zealand to join the Blues.

Nonu said he was happy to be continuing his career in New Zealand and had been "flattered and grateful" to receive offers from other teams at home and overseas after his sacking by Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett.

First-season coach Hammett angered Hurricanes fans when he announced midseason that Nonu and All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore would not be re-signed next season.