Savea ready for step up to Test rugby
Sportal.co.nz 04 Jun 2012 Getty Images
"I loved how he played," Savea said of a player who moved offshore last season but who left 46 tries on the All Blacks scoring list as a mark of his impact on the game.
"I think the first time I met him was at Hurricanes Schools and he gave out our medals and I was pretty starstruck when he gave me a medal. I admired how he played and I still do," Savea said.
Savea said he was still pinching himself over his selection as he had not expected to be in the running for consideration this year.
Improved confidence, a lot of hard work and help from key people had helped him lift his game this year to the point where his form demanded attention from the national selectors.
Given the aerial bombardment he was put under in his early days, his fielding of the high ball has become one of his attributes and he was more confident about coping with anything the Irish might boot in his direction in the Steinlager series.
"I do my work-ons each week and I know if I've done that I feel pretty confident," he said.
Having the Hurricanes playing so well was a boost as well and that was a result of the team working on their unity.
They had all bought into their goals and there was a good feeling around the side. That attitude had the Hurricanes still in the running for a play-offs place over the two rounds remaining when the competition resumes in July.
"There's definitely a chance there if we win the rest of our games and if some of the other teams lose then I think we have a good chance. But we will take one week at a time and see how it goes," he said.
Savea said the feeling still hadn't kicked in, although congratulatory messages had been pouring for him. It was a 'dream come true', he said.
"I feel like I'm ready, I guess that is why the coaches have picked us and I'm just getting stuck into this week and hopefully I will get a chance."
A boost to his game had been getting an understanding of his role in the game plan and getting clarity about what he needed to do for the team.
"That's given me confidence and carried on through the year.
"Whatever I see in front of me I've got to choose the best option I guess and if I don't really have an option I try to use my power but it's the boys inside me who are putting in the good opportunities so I give credit to them."
Having All Blacks centre incumbent Conrad Smith inside him was crucial. He had watched him while he was growing up and then to play with him inside had been helpful for his game over the past two years.
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