Ardie thrust into limelight

Sun, 11 Sep 2016 08:07

NEWS: The much-hyped Hurricanes flank Ardie Savea has been thrust into the All Blacks limelight with confirmation that injured Sam Cane will be out of action for at least a month.

Even in a country renowned for producing world-class No.7s, notably the recently retired Richie McCaw, Savea has been regarded as someone exceptional ever since he made his provincial debut four years ago as an 18-year-old.

He was singled out by New Zealand coach Steve Hansen as a special project the following year when he selected Savea as an "apprentice" to sample the All Blacks atmosphere on their 2013 northern hemisphere tour.

The younger brother of blockbusting wing Julian Savea eventually sampled Test rugby with bit parts off the bench in five 2016 internationals.

Now he has been elevated to be lead contender for the Rugby Championship clash with South Africa next weekend, with Cane sidelined for four to six weeks with a hamstring injury he suffered in the All Blacks' 57-22 victory over Argentina in Hamilton.

While Savea is rapidly gaining cult status in New Zealand with his immense pace and power, Hansen, however, is keen to downplay expectations.

"It's a big step up from Super Rugby to the more physical demands of international rugby. Everyone is happy with the progress but we know there's things he can still do better.

"It's the pace of the game. He's a really explosive athlete, so is he ready to play 80 minutes? We're not sure yet at that level but we'll get a good 60 out of him and we know Matty [Matt Todd] can play for as long as we need him," Hansen said after also calling Crusaders flank Matt Todd into his squad.

The All Blacks could claim the Rugby Championship crown with two games to spare if they register a bonus-point win over South Africa, with Hansen tipping Australia to finish second on the ladder.

The Wallabies snapped a six-game losing streak with a 23-17 win over the Springboks and Hansen expects them to beat Argentina next weekend.

"It's about who is going to bounce back the best and you'd suggest Australia are in a better position because they are coming off a win and they'll be feeling good about themselves after struggling. Argentina will maybe go into their shells a wee bit but it'll be a good contest because if they both turn up they've got contrasting styles," he added.

Agence France-Presse

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Fri, 15 December 2017
Ulster v Harlequins 19h45 Kingspan Stadium
Sat, 16 December 2017
Treviso v Scarlets 13h00 Stadio Comunale di Monigo
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Leinster v Exeter Chiefs 15h15 Aviva Stadium
Racing Metro v Castres 15h15 Stade Yves-du-Manoir
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Sun, 17 December 2017
Wasps v La Rochelle 13h00 Ricoh Arena
Clermont Auvergne v Saracens 15h15 Stade Marcel-Michelin
Ospreys v Northampton Saints 15h15 Liberty Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Munster 17h30 Welford Road
Fri, 22 December 2017
Wasps v Gloucester 22h00 Ricoh Arena
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Northampton Saints v Exeter Chiefs 22h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leicester Tigers v Saracens 22h00 Welford Road
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Sale Sharks v Bath 22h00 AJ Bell Stadium
RESULT SCORE
Mon, 11 December 2017
Saracens v Clermont Auvergne 14 | 46
Sun, 10 December 2017
Exeter Chiefs v Leinster 8 | 18
Harlequins v Ulster 5 | 17
La Rochelle v Wasps 49 | 29
Sat, 09 December 2017
Munster v Leicester Tigers 33 | 10
Castres v Racing Metro 16 | 13
Northampton Saints v Ospreys 32 | 43
Toulon v Bath 24 | 20
Scarlets v Treviso 33 | 28
Fri, 08 December 2017
Glasgow Warriors v Montpellier 22 | 29
Sun, 03 December 2017
Harlequins v Saracens 20 | 19
Sat, 02 December 2017
Cheetahs v Scarlets 28 | 21
Munster v Ospreys 36 | 10
Wasps v Leicester Tigers 32 | 25
Treviso v Leinster 10 | 36
RUGBY CHAMPIONSHIP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
New Zealand 6 6 0 0 28
Australia 6 2 2 2 15
South Africa 6 2 2 1 14
Argentina 6 0 0 6 0