'Shucks, I've signed a five-year contract over in Europe': Ardie Savea jokes about undecided future plans
Ardie Savea is off-contract with New Zealand Rugby at the end of the year and the powers that be will be trying desperately to ensure the Hurricanes captain remains in NZ until at least the 2023 Rugby World Cup.
While Savea wants his team to put a good performance on the park to honour the departing members of the Hurricanes in what is shaping up as their final match of Super Rugby for the year, he’s yet to make a decision himself where his future lies.
“Being back at home, being in front of family and friends at SKY Stadium and knowing that it’s the last game for a few of our players at home, that’s pretty special and I think that’s one of the big drivers for us this week,” Savea told media on Thursday.
“This week’s all about little changes in our game but also around connecting and making sure we kind of embrace the situation we’re in. It’s a pretty tough situation but [it’s also about embracing] the uniqueness and just being able to play footy – stripping it right back and having brothers play potentially their last game. Being back home in front of friends and family is pretty special.”
There have been rumours that Savea could shift to new Super Rugby franchise Moana Pasifika next season, while the 49-cap All Black could also command a huge salary off-shore.
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“Shucks, I’ve signed a five-year contract over in Europe,” he joked. “I’m kidding bro.
“I still haven’t decided what I’m doing just yet. Kind of just been focussing on getting my injury right. That was kind of my main focus the last couple of weeks. I haven’t really thought about it actually at the moment but should do.
Savea revealed that he wouldn’t be seriously contemplating his future until after the Super Rugby season comes to a close – likely this weekend – and that a number of factors would come into consideration, including the ever-present pull of the black jersey.
“To be the world’s best, you’ve got to play against the world’s best,” Savea said. “That can only happen on the international stage. The All Blacks and the jersey’s always been something that’s really special to myself and many other players around the world.
“I love to play [in NZ] but you never know where the holy spirit takes me and God takes me. I’m just living in the moment, living present, and wherever the spirit takes me, I’ll go there.”
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Unlike Savea, there are no question marks about All Blacks midfielder Ngani Laumape’s future, with the former Warrior set to take up a contract with Stade Francais in the coming weeks. Laumape will start in the midfield once last time for the Hurricanes in their match with the Reds.
While Laumape has been a huge presence for the Hurricanes on the park throughout his five years with the team, it’s off the field where Savea says he’s made the biggest contributions.
“He’s been amazing,” said Savea. “I still remember the first phone call, when he called me when he was with the Warriors. He asked me how I would do at union and I told him he would be one of the greats. For him to come to union, to come into a high-level team in Super Rugby and be where he is now I think is a testament to himself and his family.
“It’s going to be pretty emotional, you know? I’ve formed a real strong bond with Ngans outside of the field so I’m just excited for him to go out there in his last one at home and just to have fun and be free. He’s done amazing things for us in this jersey. He’s done so much more off the field, which is a testament to him.”
As a number of Hurricanes players are yet to confirm their futures, there won’t be too big a fanfare on Friday evening when the match kicks off, said Savea, but there’ll be plenty of reminiscing and celebrating once the seasons comes to a formal close.
“We all know deep down inside this is going to be the last time that this group is together and that’s kind of a goosebumpy feeling.
“We won’t do anything in particular at the start because we don’t know who’s staying or who’s going, apart from Ngans, but hopefully afterwards when the season’s done and we have our after-match function, we’re able to celebrate those guys in the right way and honour them.”
The Hurricanes will take on the Reds at 7:05pm NZT on Friday evening from SKY Stadium in Wellington.
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