Rugby Championship

Savea hungry, but not for food

2015-08-06 13:19
Julian Savea (Getty Images)

Sydney - New Zealand's try-scoring machine Julian Savea has been through a three-week boot camp to get back to full fitness and is ready to resume his Test career against Australia this weekend, coach Steve Hansen said on Thursday.

The 24-year-old flyer, who has scored an astonishing 30 tries in 33 Tests, missed the victories over Samoa, Argentina and South Africa but returns to the All Blacks side for Saturday's Rugby Championship decider in Sydney.

"We're trying to get him fit, he turned up overweight," Hansen explained.

"He's been good, though, and his attitude to that task has been fantastic. He's done everything he's been asked to do, he's made some great gains, he's gone through some pain.

"But he's pretty hungry, I don't mean for food, for the game, and that's a good place to have him. Because when he's like that he's a pretty handy footballer."

That assessment was clearly an effort at comic understatement and Savea's presence on the left wing is a sight no opponent will be keen to see as the All Blacks defend their World Cup title over the next few months.

Nicknamed "Big Black Bus" by his team-mates, Savea's pace, strength and vision earned him comparisons with Jonah Lomu when he first burst onto the test scene in 2012.

Savea said it had been disappointing to miss out on the start of the Rugby Championship but accepted he had not been in the best of shape after a long domestic season with the Hurricanes, the Super Rugby runners-up.

"It's always hard when you are playing week in, week out, your eating stays the same or even increases, but the training load comes down," he said.

"So the coach made the decision, and I responded really well. I agreed with him and worked my (backside) off. It's been really rewarding and I'm happy with the changes I've seen over the last couple of weeks.

"I just wanna get out there."

Three of weeks of "pretty much just running" had the desired effect, he said, even if one session of repeated sprints ended with him suffering an asthma attack.

"There's nothing out of the ordinary, always happens, nothing strange about it," Savea said when asked about his health.

"I could be having one right now sitting down. All under control so it's going good."


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