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Smith lauds resurgent winger Savea

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 11/09/2016

All Blacks fullback Ben Smith says there's no outside back in the world more fearsome than an on-song Julian Savea.

The Bus appeared back to his barnstorming best on Saturday against Argentina, claiming a try in the All Blacks' 57-22 win and producing five line breaks.

He also made 116 metres in 11 carries, more than any of his teammates.

The strong performance follows two equally solid outings, one from the bench, in his side's Bledisloe Cup victories over the Wallabies.

Savea, 26, endured a torrid 2016 Super Rugby campaign after coming into the Hurricanes' pre-season overweight and producing several listless performances.

He was later dropped to the bench for his side's successful tilt at a maiden Super Rugby crown.

But All Blacks vice-captain Smith, 30, told reporters on Sunday that Savea had obtained a lot of confidence in recent weeks from his work on the training paddock.

The 46-cap winger could be lethal when in the mood.

"You just want to get the ball to him when he's playing like that," Smith said.

"It's not something you want to see, the line being broken and Julian coming right at you."

Savea told reporters on Saturday he'd been guilty of overthinking his game for the Hurricanes and playing without instinct.

But he felt he'd rectified the problem in the All Blacks environment by doing the little things right and enjoying his rugby again.

He said he had returned to playing footy with a clear mind.

"There's always something about this jersey that makes you want to not miss out," Savea said.

"It was just me thinking about too much stuff and worrying about too many things and making mistakes."

Assistant coach Ian Foster said Savea was now complementing his physical fitness and desire with improved decision making.

"The small skillset stuff is starting to come back," Foster said.

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