Saturday's 21-5 win over Argentina might prove to have been an important match in the burgeoning All Blacks career of Julian Savea.
The Wellington wing who is shy and quietly spoken has tended to take those characteristics on to the paddock, at various levels of the game. Despite his talent, there's been a tentativeness about Savea's play.
The Pumas, though, were an opponent against whom Savea knew he had to "man up".
That he was able to should do wonders for the 22-year-old's confidence.
"It comes down to preparation and I prepared well," Savea said after scoring a try and generally impressing in his first test on Westpac Stadium.
"It was very special for me, playing for your country in front of your hometown and with all your friends and family there to support you."
And it got better when Savea just had to stroll a metre and put the ball down after another Wellington player, Ma'a Nonu, gifted him his fourth test try.
"I didn't really expect that pass from Ma'a. It was a selfless act," Savea said of his Oriental-Rongotai clubmate's generosity.
The match hadn't loomed as one that would suit Savea. The rain and high wind meant catching kicks wouldn't be easy and the high ball has been one of his "work-ons".
"We just knew that if it got kicked back, we had to come close together as a back three." Whether the player dropped the ball or caught it, they would be there to support each other, he said.
Savea, Israel Dagg and Cory Jane were all sound at the back, as well as having strong workrates. Savea had come on to the left wing in place of another Wellington man, Hosea Gear, and may have done enough to secure a start against South Africa on Saturday.
"I'm just trying to play the best I can and me and Hosea are pushing each other. If he's playing well and I'm playing well, it doesn't matter who plays really," he said.
Like everyone at Westpac Stadium, Savea wasn't sure what to think when the power went off just as the second half was about to resume.
"I thought someone was playing a trick on us. I didn't expect that. We were all out on the field and it was still ‘lights on' and then everything went off and I was like, ‘Fireworks?"'
- © Fairfax NZ News
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