Hansen pledges his support to Julian Savea
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has pledged his support to All Blacks wing Julian Savea who appears to be letting his off-field issues affect his form on the rugby field.
Although police have signalled their intention to withdraw a charge of assault relating to an incident involving his partner - once Savea has completed an anti-violence course - the 22-year-old still seems to be struggling to push the incident out of his mind.
Although Savea battled to make an impression during last weekend's 23-13 win over the France at Eden Park, Hansen has continued to show faith in the big Hurricanes flyer by picking him for the second test at Christchurch's AMI Stadium on Saturday night.
''It's well publicised what happened off the track and clearly that put a wee comma in his season,'' Hansen said this morning. ''Up until then he had been playing outstanding.
''But it's a lot for a young person, even an older person, to be able to handle. It's an unfortunate incident. It's not one that he's proud of - or any of us are.
''All we can do is support him and help him deal with that process. There's a child involved as well which makes it even more complicated. But he's working his way through that, as are all parties and I'm sure we will see the real Julian going forward - which is all we want.''
Savea this week had his next court appearance put off until mid-September to give him further time to complete an anti-violence course.
He was scheduled to appear in the Wellington District Court yesterday after being remanded for a month on an assault charge.
However, his lawyer said police and defence had agreed to an extension, which would see his next appearance delayed until September 18.
Hansen said he wouldn't be surprised if Savea had been distracted by the on-going saga but said there had been no temptation to give him a break from playing to allow him to clear his head.
''I don't know if it is or it isn't but if it was me, or if it was you, it would be playing on our mind a wee bit wouldn't it?
''It is just human nature that you don't let it go until everything is tidied up. And I think the public have possibly moved on, the court process is moving through what it needs to do but Julian, and the parties involved, they still have got a bit of work to tidy up.
''As I said there is a child involved. It just doesn't go away. It has got to be dealt with and dealt with in the right way so the child is well looked after and feels loved by everybody. And they are doing that.''