'I want to test myself': All Blacks star Ardie Savea reveals shock rugby league ambitions
Speaking on The Ice Project podcast, hosted by former rugby league international Isaac John, Savea said that he had been contemplating making a switch to the 13-man game as early as next year.
The 26-year-old, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury sustained during last year’s World Cup, is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021, but told the podcast that he was “low-key thinking about it (a code switch) for next year”.
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Savea cited former All Blacks teammate and new Toronto Wolfpack signing Sonny Bill Williams as a source of inspiration for such a move, which would send shockwaves across both rugby union and league worldwide.
“100 per cent I want to play rugby league, I think they (the players) do a lot more in terms of off the field stuff. And also, just a new challenge. I want to test myself,” Savea said.
“Learning a whole new game and seeing if I can dominate or, play the way I play in union, that excites me. Seeing guys like Sonny do it kind of plays on my mind a bit.”
The Hurricanes veteran ruled out a move to the New Zealand-based Warriors, however, as he admitted that if a move to the NRL came to fruition, he would likely only suit up for a powerhouse club, such as the Sydney Roosters or Melbourne Storm.
“Strategically I would want to got to a team that was dominating, like the Storm or Roosters,” he said.
“It sucks that I got this injury because I was low key thinking about it (switching to league) for next year.”
Savea’s bombshell revelations comes after former Wallabies pivot Quade Cooper expressed a similar desire to make play rugby league on the same podcast in December.
At the age of 31, though, Cooper’s quest to play in the NRL appears less likely than that of Savea, who is still only 26 and at the peak of his powers, as evidenced by his World Rugby player of the year nomination in 2019.
While the implications of a move by Savea to rugby league would be felt on an enormous scale in both codes, the impact would be particularly damaging for the Hurricanes.
Adding Savea to their departure list beyond next year would be an even more cruel blow for the one-time Super Rugby champions than for the All Blacks, who would still be able to call upon the services of Sam Cane at openside flanker.
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) February 24, 2020
The eighth-placed Hurricanes are hopeful Savea will be available for selection by April, about two-to-three months earlier than first anticipated after he underwent knee surgery at the end of last year.
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