Parking 'The Bus': Former All Blacks star Julian Savea reveals plans for future in New Zealand rugby
Savea has joined his Hurricanes teammates in camp, following his return to the franchise. The last time the man nicknamed ‘The Bus’ played for them was in the 2018 semi-final against the Crusaders.
He spent the last two European rugby seasons with Toulon in the French Top 14, before departing in March.
Savea says he initially reached out to the Canes when returning to New Zealand, who hold a special place in his heart having spent his entire provincial career in Wellington.
“I would love to [stay], but it’s out of my hands at the moment,” he said.
“Whatever happens happens. But I’m just going to be as helpful as I can for the team and be my best.”
The Hurricanes have two games remaining in the competition and, while incredibly unlikely, still have a chance at winning the title.
Savea’s match fitness will take some time to return to his powerful best, having not played a professional game in five months. But asked if he believes he could play as soon as this coming weekend, he did not hold back.
“Of course, 100 percent I’ll be keen as. Just to jump in with the boys and be back with some familiar faces to catchup has been pretty awesome so far.
“Still a long journey to get to that point. I’ll make the most of it.”
Should he fail to see any action, Savea expects to see plenty on the club rugby scene.
The Mitre 10 Cup starts next month as well, and a chance, whether with his former Wellington or another outfit, looks on the cards.
“I’m sorting through that at the moment. Where I’ll end up I’m not too sure,” he says.
Savea and his family’s decision to return to New Zealand turned out to be an easy one with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport in Europe.
Savea says long-term they want to stay here.
If the Hurricanes do not snap up the 29-year-old beyond this year, he could turn to another domestic suitor who is keen to snag his signature. Savea admits he was open to any playing opportunity when coming home.
His 2019-20 season with Toulon was cut short when play was suspended following the final match of week 17 on March 1. It brought a tumultuous stint at the club to an end, which was highlighted by president Mourad Boudjellal openly criticising Savea.
He has been able to enjoy a lengthy break while staying in Auckland.
“Probably the longest break I’ve ever had. Spending time with the family’s been awesome,” he said.
So far Savea has taken part in club rugby trainings and elected to take things slowly to avoid injuring himself.
Savea’s addition plugs a hole on the left wing following the departure of Ben Lam, who has joined French club Bordeaux. Savea’s strong running game will ideally make-up for the loss of Ngani Laumape, who is out for the rest of the competition with a broken forearm.
The Hurricanes round out their season against the Chiefs at home and Highlanders away.
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