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‘Going to miss him’: Hurricanes coach on the ‘void’ left by Ardie Savea

By Finn Morton
Ardie Savea of the Hurricanes walk out of the players tunnel before the during the round 15 Super Rugby Pacific match between Hurricanes and Crusaders at Sky Stadium, on June 03, 2023, in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Masanori Udagawa/Getty Images)

It doesn’t get any tougher than trying to fill the “void” left by the departure of the World Rugby Player of the Year, but that’s an issue facing the Hurricanes ahead of Super Rugby Pacific 2024.

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All Blacks backrower Ardie Savea will miss the entirety of next year’s campaign after taking up a well-earned sabbatical as part of his deal with New Zealand Rugby.

Savea, 30, will play for former Wallabies coach Dave Rennie in Japan’s Rugby League One competition after inking a deal with Kobe Kobelco Steelers.

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Canes head coach Clark Laidlaw, who formerly coached the All Blacks Sevens side, said it will be tough to fill the hole left by “the best player in the world.”

“It’s a big void. He’s the best player in the world. He’s a leader, he’s captained the All Blacks, and he’s an outstanding man,” Laidlaw said, as reported by Stuff.

“We’re going to miss him, but hopefully he’s not gone forever. He will be back and hopefully he can enjoy his time in Japan with Dave Rennie and the team.”

The Hurricanes unveiled their 38-man squad for the upcoming campaign on Thursday, and while the departure of Ardie and Julian Savea are talking points, there’s reasons to be optimistic if you’re a fan of the Wellington-based franchise.

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All Blacks Cam Roigard and TJ Perenara will combine for a formidable one-two punch as the two leading halfbacks in the squad, and playmaker Ruben Love is back and raring to go.

But the most exciting pickup ahead of the new season is Brad Shields. The former England international returns home to New Zealand for his second stint with the Hurricanes.

Shields, 32, is one of six loose forwards including Wellington Lions skipper Du’Plessis Kirifi, and players to watch Peter Lakai, TK Howden and Brayden Iose.

“The last time I saw Brad we were having a few beers after the 2015 final, which we lost,” Laidlaw added. “We had a chuckle about that a few weeks ago.

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“If you talk about leadership, he role models what you want in a player every day. We want him to come in and be a role model, a really good professional and want to start.

“His performances for Wellington were really strong for someone who has been overseas, the way he adapted and came back was exceptional, so we’re really fortunate to fill Ardie’s spot with someone like Brad Shields.”

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