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'It's a warrior game': Ardie Savea explains controversial gesture

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea has explained what he was thinking when he made a controversial gesture towards a Rebels player during their Super Round clash on Friday.


Playing their second Trans-Tasman derby in as many weeks, the Hurricanes were looking to remain undefeated ahead of their match against the Blues in round three.

Playing with his heart on his sleeve, world-class loose forward Savea was on a mission during the opening 40 at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

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Savea worked tirelessly in an effort to do the Canes jersey proud, and was largely successful during the first-half as he crossed for two tries and made some strong stops on defence.

But as the half-time siren ticked ever closer, a brain-fade from Savea has unfortunately become the major talking point out of an otherwise thrilling contest.

After receiving a yellow card, the All Black ran his thumb across his throat, and directed the gesture at Melbourne Rebels halfback Ryan Louwrens.

Rebels centre Reece Hodge said “he’s threatening to kill him”, as picked up on the Stan Sport broadcast.


The home crowd were outraged as Savea walked off the field, and let out of a chorus of boos as he prepared to return to the field after his time in the sin bin was up.

Not matter how much they tried, the cheers from the Hurricanes fans in attendance couldn’t match the cries of disapproval of those supporting the Rebels.

Savea, who almost all rugby fans would agree acted uncharacteristically in this exchange, apologised for his actions after the match.


“I just mean when I come on I’m going to try and smash you, pretty much,” Savea told reporters.

“I understand that can be taken the wrong way and like in the post (match interview) I apologised, I apologised to the player I did it too as well after the game.

“It’s just the heat of the moment mate, it’s a warrior game but I’ve got to lead by example being the skip so I got that wrong.

“Something that I can keep learning and growing from.”

As reported earlier, Savea could potentially face further punishment for this incident.

But the backrower isn’t deflecting the blame, but insisted he’s learned his lesson after having a post-match phone call with his “old man.”

“I’m not sure too sure, that’s out of my control. People can take it the way they can,” he said.


“It’s a heat of the moment, it’s a warrior game. You’re in there, you’re ready to battle, you’re trying to smash each other and there was a bit of banter going on (and it) got the best of me.

“Usually I’m cool, calm and collected in those kind of moments so that’s something for me to work on.

“I got off the field and my old man called me and kind of groaned me off so that’s a lesson learned.

“He’s a pretty calm dude but it’s not often I get a call like that after the game. Mum was in the crowd today too and she asked if I was all good cause usually I’m not like that,” he added later.

“I called me wife, she told me, ‘Are you all good?’ Brain explosion from me.

“I understand the role I play with the kids watching the games and stuff like that so it doesn’t excuse what I did but we make mistakes and hopefully I grow and learn from it.”

Savea is widely considered to be one of the best players in international rugby, and would be a major loss for the Hurricanes if he was ruled out.

Hurricanes coach Jason Holland said he hopes that everyone can just “get on with it” after Savea took responsibility.

“Yeah obviously I hope it doesn’t go any further,” Holland said. “Ards is not happy with that but we all make errors and we’ve got to just accept them and get on with it.”

The Hurricanes’ thrilling 33-39 win over the Melbourne Rebels was the second match of Super Round at AAMI Park, following the Crusaders’ 52-15 demolition of the Highlanders.

Next up tomorrow, Moana Pasifika are set to face the Chiefs before Fijian Drua go head-to-head with the Waratahs.


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