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Savea keen to dish out Irish pain again

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 3/11/2016 Angelo Risso

All Blacks winger Julian Savea will notch up his 50th Test on Saturday against the same Irish opponent where his international rugby journey began.

Savea, nicknamed The Bus for his bulldozing play down the left flank, opened his Test career in style against Ireland in 2012, nabbing a hattrick in a 42-10 Eden Park thumping.

He has since gone on to notch up a further 42 tries, putting him just four behind all-time leading Kiwi tryscorer Doug Howlett.

The 26-year-old Hurricane told reporters in Chicago the Test milestone was always in the back of his head, but not something to dwell on too long.

He was simply glad to put some shaky early-2016 form to bed over the course of the Rugby Championship, culminating in a double against Australia a fortnight ago.

"It's creeped up really quickly but you know, I'm just really privileged and honoured to be part of this team and to get the opportunity," Savea said.

"I wouldn't be able to do what I do without the team, so whatever happens this weekend, it's all about the team."

Head coach Steve Hansen has decided to deploy the twin wing threats of Savea and Waisake Naholo simultaneously against the Irish, hoping to make use of their finishing prowess.

Hansen expected the pair, not renowned for their skill under the high ball, to come under aerial bombardment from Irish playmakers Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray.

"They'll get tested in that area so we'll see how they're going," Hansen said.

"Waisake has real pace and it gives us the opportunity to see what this combination is really like."

Savea, an American sports fanatic, has used his time in the Windy City to enjoy the sports on offer, including a Chicago Bulls NBA match.

However a Kiwi compatriot plying his trade in another American pastime, Bears NFL fullback Paul Lasike, said on Thursday that the 108kg Savea would make for a perfect gridiron tight end.

The remarks echoed former 49er and current rugby league star Jarryd Hayne's comments a week ago that Savea was the All Black most suited to gridiron.

But Savea was having none of it, saying rugby was his only game.

"A lot of technicality goes into that and I don't think I'll be able to suit that," Savea said.

"It's all fun and games."

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