Savea brothers reunited at Canes
Sportal.co.nz 01 Nov 2012 Getty Images
The younger of the two brothers, Ardie, is one of eight new faces in Mark Hammett's squad for 2013 joining Tongan halfback Samisoni Fisilau, Ben Franks, Rey Lee-Lo, James Marshall, Matt Proctor, Eric Sione and Blade Thomson.
And the 19-year-old is looking forward to the chance to take the field with his All Black brother.
"I always thought it would be awesome playing, with him on the wing," said Ardie Savea.
"First XV was the last time I can remember (playing 15s together)."
The pair did play for the Wellington sevens team at this year's National Provincial Sevens championships in Queenstown in January.
"He was the captain," revealed Julian. "Although he was the captain I was still telling him what to do. It's not going to change much now," he said.
As in any family there is rivalry between the brothers. Both have taken a similar path to the Hurricanes after starring in All Blacks Sevens sides under Gordon Tietjens and impressing for the Wellington Lions.
Julian has gone on to make his Test debut against Ireland where he scored a hat-trick. His younger sibling is already been talked of in All Black circles so it seems it is only a matter of time before he follows in his elder brother's footsteps.
"Since we were little we've always been competitive," said Julian. "It's died down a bit at the moment but I've got a feeling it's going to start again.
"It's a very proud moment for the family. Our parents are proud and it will be awesome to play alongside (Ardie)."
Ardie Savea and Thomson are the greenhorns of the loose forward mix that includes Brad Shields and veteran campaigners Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Victor Vito and Karl Lowe.
Savea's preferred position is openside flanker, but he also played No.8 for the Lions this year and Hammett is not yet ready to pigeon-hole his new recruit.
"These days with the loose forwards and how you can play and interact in terms of combinations, Ardie has shown he can play in any of those positions in the loose forwards," said the Hurricanes coach.
"We'll work hard with Ardie and Ardie will work with those experienced players like Victor and Karl Lowe to grow his game."
Savea, 19, is keen to add some bulk ahead of next year's campaign to help him cope with the added physicality of Super Rugby.
He currently tips the scales at 97kg and wants to be pushing at least 100kg by the time the season kicks off against the Blues on February 23.
"I've got this whole pre-season to get some kilos on and get ready for it," the teenage loose forward said.
"But what put me in the Lions team was my speed and I don't want to lose that speed because that's what's got me here now.
"Hopefully I'll get that size and maintain the speed and I'll be really happy."
Vito, who like Julian Savea will depart for Europe with the All Blacks on Thursday, has liked what he has seen so far of his new Hurricanes team-mate.
"(Ardie's) a great tackler of the ball and although he might be worried about his size I think that will come," said Vito.
"He's only 19 and I'm sure the fitness trainers will get him up to speed with where he needs to be.
"He was playing at his weight (in the ITM Cup) and he was playing against guys who were pretty big and I saw him shrugging them off. He's in good hands. It's just up to us to take pressure of his shoulders and let him play his natural game when he gets the chance."
Hammett confirmed Taranaki openside flanker Scott Waldrom had been in the mix for the Hurricanes until he required further surgery on a long-standing foot injury.
"He was really keen to finish his last year with the Hurricanes," Hammett said. "But unfortunately that foot didn't hold together."
Lam is also touch and go for the start of the season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury.
But first five-eighth Tusi Pisi, who is currently back with his Japanese side, is expected to rejoin the franchise nearer to the start of the season than he did this year.
"The Japanese season finishes a lot earlier," explained Hammett. "We suspect at worse he'll be available week three.
"I'm rapt to have him back. He can play second-five and fullback. It gives us quite a bit of versatility with Tusi in the mix.
"He was massive in our campaign last year. He came on and finished out games a lot. We saw us win a lot of games at the death and a lot of it was with him on the field and driving that. He's a very experienced player.
"But he's also a very smart player. He was a very important member of our strategy team."
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