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Hansen praises departing Savea


Steve Hansen pays tribute to 'unstoppable' Julian Savea

All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen has paid tribute to winger Julian Savea, who has been linked with a move to Toulon in France.

“I don’t want to pre-empt his press conference but, if it is the case, he’s been a fantastic rugby player not only for the Hurricanes and Wellington but also the All Blacks,” he said.

“I think he’s the second-top tryscorer of all time [for the All Blacks], he caught the imagination of the world really. When he was at his best, he was nigh-on unstoppable, so he’s done what a lot of people would aspire to do and that’s wear the jersey with pride and enhance it.”

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Savea is contracted to NZR until the end of 2019 but will seek a release to take up a lucrative deal with Toulon. He recently committed to play the Mitre 10 Cup campaign for the Wellington Lions but will negotiate a release from the remainder of his contract.

He scored 46 tries in 54 tests for the All Blacks, becoming known as ‘The Bus’ for his rampaging runs and finishing prowess. The Rongotai College-product played 115 Super caps for his hometown franchise Hurricanes, scoring 45 tries. Savea played his last test in July last year against the Lions but has been sparingly used since by the All Blacks.

“It’s disappointing to see him going when he’s still young, but sometimes that’s the case with some players. They get to their peak early and then it’s time to move on,” said Hansen.

“But he’s done a great job and I wish him all the best really and hope it goes really well for him. He’s still young enough to come back if he has that desire.”

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Steve Hansen pays tribute to 'unstoppable' Julian Savea