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Ardie Savea all but shuts door on Samoa but what about Moana Pasifika?

By Tom Vinicombe
(Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

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Ardie Savea has become the second All Black following Patrick Tuipulotu to sign on with New Zealand Rugby until 2025.

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While Savea has committed to New Zealand for the next four years, his deal with the Hurricanes runs until the end of the 2023 season. As such, Savea could choose to represent a different Super Rugby side in the final two years of his contract or, like Tuipulotu, he could head to Japan for a one-season sabbatical in order to boost his earnings – assuming that’s been built into his new deal.

Either way, however, it looks like Savea has shut the door on representing Samoa, despite recent changes to World Rugby’s regulations which would allow the 59-test All Black to switch allegiances after a three-year stand-down period.

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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.
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The panel of Ross Karl, Bryn Hall and James Parsons run their eyes over all the developments from the past week of rugby.

Savea will turn 32 in 2025. Assuming he continues to represent New Zealand at test level until the end of his new contract, it wouldn’t be until 2028, when he turns 35, that he’d become eligible to play for Manu Samoa.

That being said, the details of Savea’s new deal have unsurprisingly not been made public. It’s technically possible that the loose forward might have agreed to play for the Hurricanes and the All Blacks up until the 2023 World Cup, before spending the following two years of his contract representing Moana Pasifika and refraining from playing test rugby. Savea could then head offshore in 2026 and, after one more season in the international wilderness, would become available for his parents’ birth nation, Samoa.

In this day and age, all sorts of complex contracts are part and parcel for NZR.

If, however, Savea’s four-year commitment to playing in New Zealand is also a commitment to playing for New Zealand, then the 28-year-old has all but ended his aspirations of representing Samoa – unless he believes he’ll still be up for playing test rugby at 35, which isn’t entirely out of the question.

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Savea has always been a major advocate for the changes to World Rugby’s regulations and older brother Julian will become eligible to represent Samoa on January 1 when the new regulation comes into play, with the former All Black not running out in a black jersey since 2017.

While Ardie Savea likely won’t ever have the chance to join his brother in running out wearing the blue of Manu Samoa, he’s at least kept the door open on potentially featuring for new Super Rugby side Moana Pasifika, who will join the competition in 2022.

Although Moana Pasifika has been founded as a means of helping to develop test rugby players for the likes of Samoa and Tonga, an experienced head like Savea would still add plenty to the squad and no doubt help nurture the talent of the Pacific.

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For the next two years, however, Savea will continue to play Super Rugby for the Hurricanes and test rugby for the All Blacks – but who knows what the future holds?

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