Ardie Savea has revealed his motive behind turning down a big-money offer to move to Top 14 club Pau.
Savea was the subject of a multitude of speculation last year as Pau and other top-tier clubs from around Europe entered negotiations with the 25-year-old to make him one of their own following this year’s World Cup.
The 35-test loose forward said it was difficult to turn down the riches of European club rugby, but said his decision to re-sign with New Zealand Rugby and the Hurricanes boiled down to keeping his one-year-old daughter Kobe in a settled, young family environment in Wellington.
“Staying here for the next couple of years I thought was the best option for myself and my family,” Savea told the Weekend Herald.
“To be quite honest, it wasn’t an easy decision, but at the end of the day, just wanting to stay in New Zealand, I’ve got a young family and my daughter’s just growing up and my parents are here, so having my daughter grow up around her grandparents … it was more for my family at the moment.
“I think at the time when I made that decision, it just felt right to stay home, but it wasn’t easy.”
A move to Pau would have been an ideal option for Savea given the club’s strong Kiwi presence through former All Blacks Colin Slade, Frank Halai, Tom Taylor, Benson Stanley, departing prop Jamie Mackintosh, Peter Saili, Daniel Ramsay, head coach Simon Mannix and assistant and Savea’s ex-Hurricanes teammate Conrad Smith.
Current All Blacks Ben Smith and Luke Whitelock will also join after the World Cup, but while a move to the French club would have significantly boosted Savea’s bank balance, he has no regrets on his decision to spurn the offer and opt to ink a new deal which will keep him in New Zealand until the end of 2021.
“I’m in a pretty blessed position to be where I am and grateful for the talent I’ve been given, so I’m just trying to make the most of it to enjoy my footy, help my family, help myself and influence the younger generation.
“If I can do that, particularly in New Zealand playing rugby, that’s fulfilling for me inside.”
Savea has continued to build on his reputation as one of Super Rugby’s most blockbusting loose forwards, alternating between openside flanker and No. 8 to make himself a formidable threat both with and without the ball.
He looms as a key figure within the All Blacks squad for the World Cup in Japan later this year, and should injured Chiefs co-captain Sam Cane struggle to return from his broken neck, Savea would be expected to start in the number seven jersey.
After bing dismantled 32-8 by the Crusaders in Wellington on Friday night, Savea’s next appearance for the Hurricanes will come next week against the Highlanders in Dunedin in what will be his final match before he serves a mandatory rest week after playing six consecutive matches.
In other news:
Sign up to our mailing list here and we’ll keep you up to the minute with weekly updates from the world of rugby.