All Blacks captaincy a dream for Savea
Ardie Savea will realise a childhood dream when he leads the All Blacks in tonight’s Rugby Championship test against the Wallabies in Perth.
Savea will captain the All Blacks for the first time, having been appointed to the role for the Rugby Championship in the absence of Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith.
The 52-test flanker has thought about what it will be like to lead his teammates out on to the field and stand at the front of the haka.
“You know it’s something you kind of only really dream about when you’re a kid,” Savea said.
“I’m just happy and grateful that mum and dad will be watching on the TV…watching the All Blacks go out and seeing their son go out too and lead so it’ll be awesome.”
The 27-year-old concedes he is “new to this” captaincy role and has leaned on the team’s other leaders, including vice-captains Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett in the lead-up to the test.
“It’s still a learning curve for myself. I’m just grateful and lucky that I have great leaders beside me that are driving the ship as well.”
Savea has received a number of messages of support from past teammates.
“A few people that I really, really looked up to coming through my rugby journey the likes of Ma’a Nonu messaged me.
“Even though we’re good mates, he was always a hero to me.”
Sonny Bill Williams and Keven Mealamu have also passed on their support to Savea and the team.
“Just a few Pacific Island brothers that I really looked up to and try to follow in their footsteps. Just real grateful for them paving the way for us.”
It has been a “unique” first week as captain for Savea, with the All Blacks confined to their team hotel the majority of the time due to Covid-19 restrictions.
“What’s been different is having to adjust to soft quarantine life.
“Post training I’m a dude that likes to go out and get some fresh air and go for walks by myself. Not being able to do that is quite weird.”
As a result Ardie Savea has been unable to gauge the excitement in Perth about the test.
“We literally jump on the bus, go to the training ground and come back to the hotel so we kind of haven’t had that feel of the city, but we know it’s going to be great.
“I know a lot of people are really looking forward to it. They’ve been waiting for this test match.”
The test is a dead rubber in terms of the Bledisloe Cup, but it also doubles as a second round fixture in the Rugby Championship.
The All Blacks also have bad memories of their last visit to Perth in 2019, which ended in a record-breaking 47-26 defeat.
“It was briefly touched on. I was involved in that test and it was a feeling that wasn’t very nice,” Savea said.
“To be honest I can’t really remember the atmosphere. All I kind of remember was just getting pumped and Australia just dominating us in that game.
“I know for me as well I kind of had an off game too, getting caught in niggle and stuff like that.
“We don’t want that same feeling tomorrow.”
The All Blacks are also raring to go, after an extended break following the second Bledisloe Cup test at Eden Park.
“We’ve been off footy for the last two, three weeks and the boys are itching to get back out there,” Savea said.
“The Aussie lads have been waiting for us and we know that they’re ready as well so I think it’s going to be a great match.
“Perth have been waiting as well so it’ll be very exciting to be able to get out on the field and put on a spectacle for people.”
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