Julian Savea feeling need for top performance

JULIAN SAVEA: "From watching them on TV in the past, it seems like it will be a really hard test and we'll see how it goes. It looks like it's going to be really intense and physical."
JULIAN SAVEA: "From watching them on TV in the past, it seems like it will be a really hard test and we'll see how it goes. It looks like it's going to be really intense and physical."

Julian Savea is more than aware that he can't afford to slip up tomorrow night if he wants to retain his place in the starting team.

It is all still new for the 22-year-old Wellingtonian, but you only get so many chances when it comes to the All Blacks and he wouldn't want to be known as Mr Inconsistent.

After a great start to his test career with a hat-trick of tries against Ireland in Auckland, he had a nightmare in the second test of the series in Christchurch.

Julian Savea
Julian Savea

But he bounced back when he got his next chance, against Argentina in the capital last weekend, scoring his fourth test try.

Having had to make way for Hosea Gear for a couple of tests it was heartening to see Savea take his opportunity at the Cake Tin, but tomorrow's challenge should be the biggest of his career so far.

If Savea wants to establish himself as one of those players who starts each test he'll need to prove at Forsyth Barr stadium that he can back up one good performance with another.

"I am really excited to play against the Springboks, I've never played against them before," Savea said.

"From watching them on TV in the past, it seems like it will be a really hard test and we'll see how it goes.

"It looks like it's going to be really intense and physical."

Providing a helping hand to Savea on the other wing will be Savea's Hurricanes team-mate Cory Jane, who has been a mentor for the 2010 IRB Junior Player of the Year.

"He is always awesome to play with," said Savea.

'He is a good, experienced player and he's given me a lot of advice and it's really helped."

Something Savea will draw on is his previous experience at playing under the roof in Dunedin, scoring a try in the Hurricanes 26-20 win in May.

"It echoes in the stadium and it's hard to hear what we're saying in the back three," he said.

"So we've got to work hard to communicate well and let each other know what's on.

"The surface is pretty firm. So whether it's rainy or sunny, it is going to be good conditions."

While the All Blacks received some criticism from their win over Argentina last weekend, it was nothing compared to the heat going on the Springboks following their 26-19 loss to the Wallabies in Perth.

Their coach Heyneke Meyer has been attacked for having a game plan that belongs in the past and there is little to get inspired about from their unimaginative, kicking reliant tactics.

Meyer and the players will fear boarding the plane back to the Republic on Sunday if they lose tomorrow, aware of the roasting they'll get.

So it's the Springboks who have more to lose in Dunedin and they'll be driven by that fear of a lashing.

"We never know what to expect from the Africans and they're up against the wall a bit," said All Blacks first-five Aaron Cruden.

"But a desperate Springboks are a dangerous Springboks and that's the attitude we're heading into it with on Saturday night and we know we've got to start from the first minute to get on top of them."

Like Savea, Cruden will feel he has something to prove tomorrow night. He admits he didn't play well in the wind and rain in Wellington but would like to see it as an experience to learn from.

"[I learned] how to play better wet weather footy," he said.

"It's not going to be a factor this week with the roof, but it was a good learning for me in how to play to the conditions.

"I hadn't played a lot since Super Rugby, it was good to get out there and although it didn't go the way I wanted it to, I think I'm going to be better for it this week."

Fairfax Media