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Hero status for All Blacks flanker Savea

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/06/2016 Daniel Gilhooly

18/6/16: Ardie Savea of the All Blacks breaks away for a try during the second International Test match against Wales © Getty 18/6/16: Ardie Savea of the All Blacks breaks away for a try during the second International Test match against Wales All muscle and speed with his bench appearances, new All Blacks game-breaker Ardie Savea is apparently a shrinking violet off the Test field.

Among the highlights of New Zealand's two Test wins over Wales has been Savea's dynamic injections, the Hurricanes flanker making an explosive start to what many believe will be a long Test career.

His second-half introduction in Saturday's 36-22 second Test win was greeted with chants of "Ardie Ardie" from his Wellington home supporters, preceding several strong bursts and a memorable try when he cleanly sidestepped a defender and raced 45m.

Veteran All Blacks flanker Jerome Kaino admits sevens star Savea leaves he and other forwards in his dust.

"He's a freak. I think he'll be a bit shy about all the attention that he's getting, but he played so well when he came on and he's done it in the last couple of weeks."

Proof of the 22-year-old's shyness came in the changing sheds after fulltime, when some of his team-mates mimicked the crowd's chanting.

"He was quick to run to the showers and hide away from the attention," Kaino said.

"Ardie's quite a mature kid for his age. He's got a good head on his shoulders and around the environment, he's always asking how he can get better."

Hurricanes captain Dane Coles joked that Savea had succeeded long-serving All Blacks centre Conrad Smith as a cult hero in the capital. Former Hurricanes skipper Smith left for a French club contract last year.

"Snakey's gone and no one likes me so, yeah, it's Ardie Savea," Coles smiled.

"It's actually pissing me off... the crowd chanting his name. I'll have to have a word with him."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen took Savea on the 2013 tour of Europe as a development player, asking him to train with the squad without being considered to play.

The concept has paid off, along with some weight training in the intervening years.

"He's a big man now. He's developed and he's matured. He's a pretty special player," Hansen said.

"He's one of those guys who was always going to be an All Black. It was just a matter of when."

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