Julian Savea 'in best place' with touring party

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:01 28/04/2013
Julian Savea
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
BACK IN THE FOLD: Hurricanes and All Black wing Julian Savea will travel to South Africa with the Hurricanes.

Relevant offers

Super Rugby

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder refuses to surrender following Sydney defeat Utility Johan Bardoul latest locking injury victim for Chiefs as crucial clash looms Concussion set to sideline Crusaders No 8 Kieran Read for Hurricanes encounter Healthy Hurricanes cruise into Super Rugby playoffs after beating battling Blues Polished Otere Black gives Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd food for thought Veteran Chiefs lock Ross Filipo revels in his rescue job for injury-ravaged team Crusaders set for Super Rugby playoffs wilderness for first time in 14 years Highlanders eyeing up massive clash against Chiefs in Invercargill Kieran Read laments costly Crusaders mistakes in loss to Waratahs Stormers back on top in South Africa

Coping with intensive scrutiny surrounding his personal life will be a major challenge as Julian Savea attempts to regain some normality this week in Pretoria.

Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett is standing by his embattled All Black who faces a domestic assault charge, believing the best place for Savea is in South Africa with his team-mates.

Savea withdrew himself from the Hurricanes team which lost 18-16 to the Stormers on Friday but he boarded a plane yesterday as part of a 25-man squad - missing promising openside flanker and younger brother Ardie - to the republic.

After seeking outside counsel, Hammett concluded Savea was in the right head space to play the Bulls this week.

"Absolutely he will be," Hammett said when asked if Savea would take the field. "He's an All Black winger and his performances to date have said nothing but select me. He'll be available for selection.

"From the professional advice we've received, the best thing is to get the individual back into normal working life as a professional rugby player.

"We took last week day by day. It's something new to us but as always we endeavour to do the right thing by him and all parties involved."

In a rugby context, Hammett has more pressing issues after Motu Matu'u suffered a fractured forearm against the defensively brutal Stormers in Palmerston North, leaving the Hurricanes with another hooking crisis.

Hawke's Bay rake Ash Dixon is likely to be promoted to the starting side with prop Reggie Goodes providing cover. Despite sending Hammett a text to say he was ready to play, All Black Dane Coles remains sidelined with a fractured cheekbone.

Earlier this year the Hurricanes called up Jason Rutledge but the Southland veteran has since rejoined the Highlanders. In the meantime, Hammett is frantically attempting to locate a hooker.

"We're still going through that process with the NZRU at the moment," he said. "We would like to get some more cover. We're looking everywhere to be quite honest. We'd hope to have that player before this game against the Bulls. I don't want to comment on who we are looking at. We've still got to get through the paper work."

The trip to Africa is rather daunting for the Hurricanes. This will make or break their season - cauldrons don't get any more intimidating than Loftus Versfeld.

The Canes were dismantled by the Stormers' rolling maul and the bully boy Bulls are sure to test them in this area. Otherwise, Hammett's men weren't far off. Their attack could use some variations but the composure and patience being demonstrated suggests they are slowly maturing.

Ad Feedback

If their forward pack can match the physical efforts of blindside Brad Shields and prop Ben Franks, they will be halfway to reviving their campaign.

"Brad has been going outstandingly well," Hammett said. "We've got Faifili Levave who has been a real strength but Brad has been keeping him out. That says a lot. He's an exceptional prospect and one the All Blacks will be really keen on. As New Zealanders we like our sixes to be dominant figures, not doing the fancy stuff; in the graft and tackle. Brad has shown that."

- Sunday Star Times

Special offers
Opinion poll

Which 2015 NZ Super Rugby team looks best?

Blues

Chiefs

Crusaders

Highlanders

Hurricanes

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content