Wellington - The prospect of formidable New Zealand wing Julian "The Bus" Savea
joining French club Toulon next season was welcomed on Friday by France
captain and Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud.
New Zealand Rugby has refused to comment on reports that the prolific
try-scorer, with 46 tries from 54 Tests, was headed offshore.
But Bastareaud applauded the move with Savea expected to head to France after the Super Rugby season.
"This is big news for us, one of the best wingers in the world, I'm
just happy for the club," Bastareaud, who is also the Toulon captain,
said as he prepared to lead France in the second Test against the All
Blacks in Wellington on Saturday.
Savea, 27, last played for the All Blacks in the third Test against the British and Irish Lions last year.
It appears Savea has seen the writing on the wall with the 27-year-old Hurricanes wing having fallen out of favour with All
Blacks coach Steve Hansen since last year's British and Irish Lions
tour, and been unwanted since.
He was not included in the 33-strong national squad to meet France in
the June series in New Zealand, and a move to France to continue his
career would be a sure sign he has accepted his Test career is over.
Savea's 46 tries is a tantalising four tries short of Doug Howlett's record haul for the national team.
Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal is making moves after an unsatisfactory season for the three-time champions of Europe.
Coach Fabien Galthie was sacked and replaced by former Gloucester prop
Patrice Collazo, while former All Black Ma'a Nonu and Semi Radradra are
both also departing the club. Ex-England wing Chris Ashton has also
reportedly told Toulon he wants to leave to pursue a shot at next year's
Rugby World Cup.
Former All Black Liam Messam is also joining the French club next
season, where he will line up alongside fellow New Zealanders Malakai
Fekitoa and Alby Mathewson.