It’s been three years since Julian Savea donned the yellow and black jersey of Wellington, but it didn’t take him long to stamp his mark on proceedings upon his return for the Lions in their Mitre 10 Cup opener against Waikato.

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The 30-year-old was named to start on the left wing at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton alongside All Blacks stars TJ Perenara and Ardie Savea against a Mooloos team featuring Damian McKenzie and Anton Lienert-Brown.

It Ardie Savea who played a key role in the lead-up to his older borther’s try in the opening stages of encounter, with the visitors handed an attacking scrum deep inside enemy territory.

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Playing at No. 8, Ardie scooped the ball up and sucked in a defender after carrying the ball down the short side before releasing Julian, who was confronted with two defenders in red, black and yellow jerseys just under 10 metres from the opposition tryline.

The 54-test former All Black made easy work of the defence, though, bursting through the attempted tackle of his opposite Bailyn Sullivan before escaping the grasp of halfback Xavier Roe and crash over in the left-hand corner.

It was reminiscent of blockbusting Savea in his prime before he departed New Zealand to join French club Toulon in 2018, and exemplified how destructive he can still be as he eyes a potential Super Rugby contract for next year.

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His barnstorming try evoked a positive response from punters on Twitter, who were quick to praise Savea’s efforts.

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With Savea having expressed an interest in returning to Super Rugby and the All Blacks, coaches across the country will have no doubt sat up and taken note of his early season exploits.

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