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'I would love to play with Dupont' - Ardie Savea on Top 14 switch

By Ian Cameron
Captains Antoine Dupont of France and Ardie Savea of New Zealand pose for a photograph with Referee Jaco Peyper at the Asahi Coin Toss prior to the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Pool A match between France and New Zealand at Stade de France on September 08, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Henry Browne - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

All Blacks star Ardie Savea has expressed a keen interest in the possibility of playing alongside French scrum-half Antoine Dupont.

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The 30-year-old back row – who is currently playing for Kobelco Kobe Steelers in Japan Rugby League One – shared his admiration for Dupont and his openness to joining a team in the French Top 14 league in an exclusive interview with Jim Hamilton on RugbyPass TV.

In addition to discussing a potential switch to French rugby, Savea voiced his belief that New Zealand players should have the flexibility to play in overseas leagues while still being eligible to represent the All Blacks.

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Walk the Talk – Ardie Savea Trailer | RPTV

All Blacks ace Ardie Savea chatted to Jim Hamilton in Japan, reflecting on the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now on RugbyPass TV

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Video Spacer

Walk the Talk – Ardie Savea Trailer | RPTV

All Blacks ace Ardie Savea chatted to Jim Hamilton in Japan, reflecting on the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now on RugbyPass TV

WATCH NOW

“My thing is if you’re a Kiwi and you’re playing across the world, you should be allowed to [play for the All Blacks]. I know there’s rules that are set in place for a reason, but I think to be able to slowly evolve and change, for players to play somewhere else and still be available… I think that should be looked at.

“You look at Jordie Barrett going to Leinster, Irish territory. That’s something that’s never been done but hopefully it just slowly, gradually evolves in that kind of way – us playing here and still be available for the All Blacks. I think it would be good. South Africa have proven it. They’ve got boys playing here in this competition [Japan Rugby League One] and they go and become World Champions.

“I don’t think there’s one way of doing it but we’ve got to look are keeping on evolving.”

While Savea made it clear that he has not received any concrete offers from French clubs, the idea of playing in the Top 14 is an appealing one for the explosive No.8.

“That’s something I loved about playing the World Cup in France, the atmosphere, the fans, the walkout. It’s pitch black in the stadium, techno lights… That’s why we play the game. The nerves, the excitement, I loved that. That’s why I kind of struggle here [in Japan], it’s really quiet, no cheering, it’s just [makes hand clapping gesture].

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“I thought about it bro, I thought about it,” said Savea. “I’ve had no proper offers but I would love to play with Dupont one day… or Ntamack. Yeah, I don’t know.”

As one of the best rugby union players in the world, Savea could theoretically have any club he wanted, provided the money was right. With the 2027 Rugby World Cup three years away and the NZR currently operating rules that favour Japan for sanctioned sabbaticals, a decision to leave the cosy fold of NZ rugby would be a big one.

Whether the NZR would take Savea back following a stint in France to let him ‘evolve’ ahead of the sport’s flagship competition remains to be seen, and he’d likely have no guarantees despite his abundant talent. What’s clear is that the desire is there for a move, even if it ultimately comes after Rugby World Cup 2023.

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Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Comments

3 Comments
N
Nickers 25 days ago

It’s clear at this point Ardie does not have another World Cup cycle in him. Unless he is being misrepresented in the interviews all he has spoken about since the World Cup is playing for anyone other than the ABs.

Don’t expect to see him re-sign with NZR when his next contract expires in 2025.

If he wasn’t already, Scott Barrett is an absolute shoe-in for captain now.

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