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Savea happy to be considered as Test No.8

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 4/05/2017

Ardie Savea won't complain if the All Blacks selectors consider him at No.8 but Hurricanes duties come first.

The openside flanker specialist returns to the back of the scrum for Friday's Super Rugby match against the Stormers in Wellington.

Having already started three games there this year in the absence of the injured Blade Thomson, the 23-year-old has loomed into consideration if injured loose forwards Kieran Read (thumb) and Jerome Kaino (knee) aren't fit for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions.

"If I got the opportunity, I'd be pretty sweet and ready," Savea says of the prospect, before switching attention to the shorter term.

"I'm just trying to worry about my performance with the Hurricanes, if that's at 7 or at 8."

Ten-Test flanker Savea says the biggest difference when playing No.8 is the additional ball-carrying and lineout jumping duties.

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd says the All Blacks have made no advances to request a switch for Savea.

The move simply suits them at the moment, with Callum Gibbins a proven force on the openside flank.

"I haven't studied the All Blacks' game enough to know what sort of role they want to put their loose forwards into.

"What I do know is that Ardie can play seven and eighth really comfortably for the way we play the game."

Boyd is surprised all the talk about possible All Blacks loose forward candidates doesn't include Hurricanes blindside stalwart Brad Shields, who is enjoying another impressive campaign.

"I don't know how long you can be an unsung hero for but he's been outstanding for us all year," he said.

"His numbers are really good, his playing's really good and I just think he's a fantastic rugby player.

"Whoever they roll out is not going to be bad, that's for sure. But Brad, to my mind, is a true contender."

The Stormers have leaked 50 points to the Crusaders and Highlanders in successive matches but Boyd says that has been ignored all week.

His defending champion side have won their last five games but don't regard the match as merely a buildup to next week's high-stakes derby against the Crusaders.

"The Stormers are probably one of the proudest provinces in South Africa," he said.

"Part of the strategy in naming what I believe is close to our best available side, is exactly around that. We can't fall into the trap that they've conceded a few points in the last couple of weeks."

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