Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea has offered teenage playmaker Ruben Love some words of advice ahead of the youngster’s first start in Super Rugby against the Crusaders on Sunday.
Love has been handed the No 10 jersey by head coach Jason Holland in what will be just his second outing at this level, two weeks after he made his debut in a five-minute cameo appearance off the bench against the Highlanders.
Despite such vast inexperience in Super Rugby, the 19-year-old has been called upon to direct his side around the park in one of the most important attacking positions against the reigning Super Rugby Aotearoa champions and current league leaders.
All of that makes for a daunting introduction to life in Super Rugby, but Savea told reporters on Saturday that he has the full trust of the 2019 New Zealand Schools star.
“It’s awesome to have Ruben get the nod at the No 10 jersey,” Savea said.
“He’s one of the hardest working men I’ve ever come across and he’s the youngest in the team, so that’s a testament to him.
“For him to come in and lead the team is a massive ask and a massive challenge but for someone like Rubes, I think he’s got the head and the finesse to lead the boys. I’m really excited about him.”
When asked what his final words of encouragement would be for Love before Sunday’s clash in Wellington, Savea quoted the late boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
“Fly like a butterfly, sting like a bee, [like the] famous Muhammad Ali,” he laughed.
Savea’s comments echo those made by Holland, who labelled Love as “an absolute student of the game”, on Friday.
“He does all the right things during the week, but he’s got a bit of energy, he’s got a bit of an excitement factor that he could pull, he’s got pace, he’s got acceleration, step, so all those things are exciting,” Holland said.
“He’s an attacking player and he’ll be an attacking No 10, but he’s also got the smarts to know when to get a bit of depth and when to kick and when to pass.”
The Hurricanes currently lie in last place on the Super Rugby Aotearoa standings with just one win from five matches.
The Crusaders, meanwhile, have four wins from five matches and sit four points clear at the summit of the competition table.
Kick-off for Sunday’s match at Sky Stadium is scheduled for 3:35pm NZT.
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