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'It's out of this world': Savea 'lost for words' after being named captain

By Ben Smith
Anton Lienert-Brown, Ardie Savea and Richie Mo'unga. (Photo by Andrew Cornaga/Photosport)

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For new All Blacks captain Ardie Savea, 2021 has been a learning curve after first being handed the captaincy of his Hurricanes club and now the national side as Ian Foster’s side prepares to take on the Wallabies in Perth.

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Savea’s leadership style will be more action-driven as he soaks up the responsibility of leading the All Blacks for the first time when they run out onto Optus Stadium.

“I’ve just trusted my process and what I do, for me it’s all about leading on the field and leading with action,” Savea explained to the press following the announcement.

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“I’m a man of a few words, so as long as I know I can lead with action and do the talking on the field then that’s a huge step into leading well.

“I’m just blessed, this year has been a massive learning curve for me in terms of the leadership role with the Canes and then being here today, I’m just grateful and really excited for the journey ahead.”

A text from head coach Ian Foster put Savea in stress-mode, with the 27-year-old loose forward first thinking he had done something wrong and that he would be in trouble.

“I just got a text from Foz, I thought I was in trouble so I was stressing out trying to think ‘what have I done, what have I done’, searched the media see if I’ve done anything,” Savea said.

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“He just sat me down and explained to me. I was literally shaking, he told me and then the rest is history, just here right now.”

Savea will have his former Hurricanes teammate Beauden Barrett and returning Chiefs lock Brodie Retallick as dual vice-captains to lean on, something he is comfortable to do given how much experience they have.

“It’s amazing having those two lads right beside me, Guz [Retallick] brings a lot of experience and fire and Baz [Barrett] is just cool, calm, collected. He’s controlling our game over here,” Savea said.

“So it’s amazing to lean on them, I’m kinda new to this and sometimes doubt myself but I know it’s a calling for such a time. I’ll lean on them a lot and hopefully lean forward.”

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The newest All Blacks captain will join a short list of names of those who have lead the New Zealand rugby team, a job Savea called ‘a huge honour’ and ‘massive responsibility’ but for him personally, it was about inspiring the youth that anything can be possible.

“It’s a huge honour, it’s a massive responsibility, but I think of it as a bigger picture kind of thing for all those kids that are out there that don’t believe in themselves, that don’t have the luxury of living of where they are,” he said.

“For me, it’s about showing them that they can, and be that person.

“It’s huge. I haven’t processed it yet. I’m just still in awe, the team that you dream of as a kid and be able to lead, it’s amazing. I’m just lost for words.

Savea will become one of a hanful of captains with Pasifika heritage for the All Blacks, behind the likes of Tana Umaga, Mils Muliana, Keven Mealamu, Jerry Collins and Rodney So’oialo, a fact that brought immense reflection for Savea as he recalled his parents journey to move to New Zealand from Samoa.

“It is [a huge source of pride]. To be able to lead such a team, it’s out of this world when I think about it,” he explained.

“To be able to tell mum and dad, is huge. Two people that migrated from Samoa to create a better life for their kids, it’s pretty crazy. To be here, for them, it’s pretty special,” an emotional Savea explained.

Becoming an All Blacks captain never felt like a realistic goal for Savea, explaining that just being named in the team seemed like a goal that was hard to reach.

“To be honest, nah. For me, just to be named in the team was a goal that seemed so far away. But things happen for a reason so I’m just going to embrace it. I’m nervous but I’m excited.”

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'It's out of this world': Savea 'lost for words' after being named captain

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