The Ardie Savea question looming for Hurricanes

The Ardie Savea question looming for Hurricanes


The Hurricanes currently boast perhaps the best loose forward trio in Super Rugby Pacific. Numerous backrowers wearing the yellow swirl have found a new vein of form in 2024, demanding consideration for higher honours.

However, next year will bring the return of the reigning World Rugby Player of the Year in Ardie Savea, currently enjoying a sabbatical in Japan.

Given there isn’t a team in the world Savea wouldn’t start for, his presence is sure to come at the expense of one of the Hurricanes’ rising stars when it comes to playing time.

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As it stands, the Hurricanes’ depth is such that All Blacks XV flanker Du’Plessis Kirifi is forced to come off the bench, becoming one of the strongest impact players in the competition.

Adding Savea to that mix complicates an already crowded talent pool.

“I look at it and think where do the other guys fit? How do they look at their future?” Former All Black Jeff Wilson queried on The Breakdown. “If you’re Brayden Iose, if you’re Devan Flanders, you’re going ‘hold on, what is it I’m going to do now? What is my role? How many starting opportunities am I going to get?’

“You’ve got Brad Shields who’s come in, is an old head, didn’t play early in the season, but is showing some real value right now.

“There’s some decisions for some players to make. I see them building depth, but by the same token, I don’t want to stop some of these young guys continuing to keep developing.”

Savea’s absence has not just exposed the young talent that has been developing in the shadows of Wellington, but handed leadership opportunities and responsibility to other team members.

Wilson believes a more communal leadership structure has benefitted and empowered the squad, to the point they can claim the competition’s favourites tag.

“They’ve beaten the Blues and they’ve beaten the Chiefs, probably the other two form sides in this competition, the Brumbies will be a huge challenge when they have them.

“I just look at what they’ve got, what culture they’ve managed to bring in straight away with Clark Laidlaw, he’s settled in really quickly.

“Clearly, there’s a change of leadership; no Ardie Savea in that group. It’s given young players an opportunity and they’ve stepped up. We saw them singing that song after the game right? All of a sudden there’s an energy in that group, there’s a belief. And, it’s a shared responsibility versus, I think Ardie took a lot on his shoulders, he really had to carry them in a lot of ways.

“Whereas now, I think the maturity of some of these young players who are now delivering in his position, at No. 8, in the loose forwards. I think they’re really strong in key areas.

“One thing they can always get, they’ve got plenty of guys who can carry the ball and get themselves going forward. Some teams don’t have that.”


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