Test try-scoring records under Savea threat

EVAN PEGDEN
Last updated 05:00 23/06/2014
Julian Savea
MARK TAYLOR/ Fairfax NZ

TRY TIME: One of three tries for All Blacks winger Julian Savea at Waikato Stadium on Saturday night.

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Julian Savea is scoring tries at such a rapid rate for the All Blacks it would seem he only needs some longevity in the game to eventually threaten records.

Savea's hat-trick on Saturday night at Waikato Stadium took the 23-year-old left winger to 23 tries in 22 test matches to date and he is not even halfway through his third international season.

The 2010 IRB Junior Player of the Year scored nine tries in his debut All Blacks season in 2012, 10 last year and has four in just two tests to date against England this year, having missed the first test due to injury.

''I'm honestly just happy to get opportunities and finish off the great work inside me,'' a modest Savea said after his three-try effort in Saturday's 36-13 victory.

''The forwards really stood up that first 20 minutes and the backs' execution with the catch and pass was brilliant and I was just able to finish it off.''

But his finishing is deadly and his prolific try-scoring in tests so far is reminiscent of Sitiveni Sivivatu's hot try-scoring pace he set in the early years of his international career before finishing with 29 tries.

The All Blacks record for test tries scored is held by another winger, Doug Howlett, who scored 49 tries in 62 tests.

The overall test record of 69 is held by Japan's Daisuke Ohata, while of top-tier test nations former Wallaby David Campese is best with 64 from 101 appearances.

Savea said it was all about the All Blacks' manipulation of space on the rugby field to create try-scoring chances.

''If there's space in the middle we'll take that, or space out wide or space in behind we'll try and exploit it.''

But Savea was not just merely on the end of a chain.

His pace, power, running angles and handling skills are from the top drawer and his pick-up off his boot laces of Aaron Cruden's bouncing cut-out pass to score his second try on Saturday without slowing was nothing short of brilliant.

The player himself was reluctant to say whether that was his best test performance in an All Blacks jersey and was just happy to be part of a series-winning side.

However, he was quicker to praise the rest of his fellow backs, saying the work of Ma'a Nonu and standout debutant centre Malakai Fekitoa had created the space out wide for the outside backs, while inside them Aaron Smith and Aaron Cruden at 9 and 10 had sparked much attack off front-foot ball.

''Our skillsets struggled in the first test, got better in the second test and then we pretty much showed us that when we do get it right we can punish teams so we've just got to keep focusing on that.'' 

While Savea was the main beneficiary of all that, on the other wing Cory Jane looked back to his best and he said it was all down to not trying too hard and just being himself.

''I just did Cory,'' said Jane. ''I just relaxed a little more instead of trying to think too much.

''It was all about just doing what I can do. I didn't get around the field as much as last week and I just needed to do when the ball came my way.''

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