Tue, Jul 10, 2007 - Page 19 News List

All Black reportedly keen on switch to rugby league

AFP , WELLINGTON

All Blacks midfield back Ma'a Nonu was reported yesterday to be keen on joining rugby union's rival code rugby league for the historic All Golds centenary match in England.

New Zealand Rugby League (NZRL) director of football Graham Lowe said he had spoken to Nonu, who was "very, very keen" on the idea, the Dominion Post newspaper said.

Nonu is thought to have only an outside chance of being selected in the All Blacks' rugby union World Cup squad to be named on July 22.

Nonu has endured a difficult year on and off the field, making just fleeting appearances off the bench for the All Blacks against France after being called in as a replacement.

Last weekend, it was reported the 25-year-old escaped alcohol-related charges by making a donation to charity under New Zealand's diversion scheme, which allows people to avoid conviction if they atone for the alleged crime.

The All Golds -- a one-off commemorative team celebrating 100 years of international rugby league -- will play the Northern Union at Warrington on Oct. 20, the same day as the rugby union World Cup final in Paris.

The original title "All Golds" was intended as an insult to New Zealand's first professional rugby team, which broke away from the then amateur All Blacks in 1907.

In addition to Nonu, former All Blacks Carlos Spencer and Tana Umaga have also been invited to join the centenary team.

However Umaga, who played league as a boy, has indicated he has other commitments on the day of the centenary match.

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