Flanker Savea aims to bulk up for battle
Most people want to lose weight, Ardie Savea wants to put it on.
The 19-year-old Hurricanes loose forward is 97kg, but knows he will be tossed from pillar to post by the South African forwards unless he can add some muscle to his upper body.
Asked at yesterday's Hurricanes squad announcement if he felt ready for the physicality of Super Rugby, Savea said "to be honest, not at the moment".
"That is why I have got the whole pre-season to put some kilos on."
Savea wants to be more than 100kg but is conscious of not losing his speed and dynamism. He expects his programme to be as much about nutrition as lifting weights in the gym.
"What put me in the Lions team was my speed and I don't want to lose that," he said.
"That is what got me here so hopefully I get the size and maintain the speed."
There was some conjecture about which position in the loose forwards suited him best. Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett sat on the fence "ask me at the end of the season" but Savea said he preferred openside.
"I prefer No 7. I've played it my whole life, so I'm more comfortable there, but if I have to play somewhere else I'm happy," Savea said.
Happy too, at the prospect of playing alongside his elder brother, Julian, 22.
"He's told me make sure you're ready for pre-season because that is the hardest."
The last time the pair played 15s together was in the 1st XV at Rongotai College. They have played 7s since.
"I've always thought to myself it would be awesome playing with him," Ardie said.
Meanwhile, the Crusaders had to sweet talk the New Zealand Rugby Union before signing Samoan halfback Jeremy Su'a.
Su'a, who has previously been contracted to the Waratahs and Melbourne Rebels, was made available to the Crusaders only after they convinced the NZRU he was superior to any other New Zealanders in his position.
At the Blues, the biggest surprise was the signing of former Chiefs and Highlanders lock Culum Retallick. He and Counties Manukau's Ronald Raaymakers are the two new second-rowers in the squad.
There was no room for Daniel Braid because apparently his strong opinions don't go down well with the Blues hierarchy.
At the Highlanders, Jamie Mackintosh has lost the captaincy to Andrew Hore while Adam Thomson was a notable omission because he is heading overseas.
"Jamie has done a great job for us in the past two seasons," Highlanders coach Jamie Joseph said.
"With the inclusion of Tony Woodcock and the inability to guarantee game time every weekend we had to get a different captain. Horey was a natural leader, he's from down here, he's captained the All Blacks, pretty obvious."
The Chiefs named their squad on Tuesday, with the inclusion of the Wellington pair of Ross Filipo and Solomona Sakalia of note.