There will be 35 happy households today after the first All Blacks training squad for 2012 was named, but perhaps none more excited than the Saveas.
While Julian Savea enjoyed a good night's sleep after earning his first All Black call-up, his brother Ardie was busy helping the New Zealand sevens team win their 10th world series title in London.
The pair have not yet spoken but there was understandably an extra spring in the winger's step after the double dose of good news.
"I haven't spoken to him yet but I'm very proud of him, they've won their 10th world series and he's going really well," said the 21-year-old, who received his good news via text message yesterday.
"I was at my auntie's house actually and got the text to confirm my number and then the next text was to say congratulations so I was very excited."
Savea had a challenging year in 2011, struggling for form in a handful of appearances for the Hurricanes, but in 2012 has been the in-form winger of the competition, putting his resurgence down to self-belief.
"Last year I made a lot of errors and I think just lost my confidence. This year I've worked really hard to get my fitness up and be able to do a lot more work around the field and that's given me a lot more confidence."
Savea joins teammates and seasoned All Blacks Cory Jane, Conrad Smith and Victor Vito in the extended training squad, as well as fellow newbies Brad Shields and Beauden Barrett.
Fullback Andre Taylor and halfback TJ Perenara were the casualties in Wellington, with Taylor, one of the top try scorers in the competition, particularly unlucky to miss out.
"We had a pool session this morning and Andre's pretty disappointed but he'll keep trucking and playing well for the Hurricanes I'm sure. There's a lot of quality halfbacks out there and TJ 's a pretty young player so he's not too disappointed," said Barrett.
While Taylor was perhaps the biggest loser, the Hurricanes also had the surprise winner in Shields, who has spent most of this Super Rugby season coming off the bench for the Hurricanes.
"To be honest I didn't think I was really in the running but then the text came through so I was pretty shocked, but happy at the same time," said the flanker, who joins the ranks of those hoping to replace the Japan-bound Jerome Kaino.
"I look at it as just another opportunity, just to go out there and grab it with two hands and do my best. Jerome's are pretty big shoes to fill. I'll just come, play my game and hope that'll be enough over time."
Barrett's call-up was less surprising, with the No 10 admitting to having talks with Steve Hansen and the coaching staff ahead of his selection. But with the best first-five in world rugby in Dan Carter and the Chief's Aaron Cruden already proven All Blacks, he has some steep competition.
"They're both quality players, I'm just going in there to put my best foot forward and make the most of my opportunities. I don't really have anything to lose at this stage."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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