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Savea's tackling trumps hat-trick

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Sportal.co.nz     10 Jun 2012     Getty Images

Savea's tackle on Irish fullback Rob Kearney - and the ensuing penalty that came the All Blacks' way - helped settle the nerves of his teammates, and from the match was in the hands of the 2010 Junior Player of the Year.

When asked to pick between his hat-trick or the single tackle, the winger chose the latter simply because of it's importance.

"Probably that tackle, and then the second action in getting up and winning a penalty".

It simply wasn't just a tackle, however. After an earlier clearance kick from Daniel Carter didn't find touch, Kearney - the European player of the year last season - ran towards the 50m line before being introduced to Savea and his crunching tackle.

The action, and the subsequent penalty duly converted by Carter from over 50m out, gave Savea confidence and was able to showcase his true game built from pace and physicality.

"I didn't really think about it and people watching probably thought it did," Savea responded when asked if the tackle gave him confidence for the rest of the match.

"I just thought I'd make the tackle and I guess it was dominant, and I had to get back to my feet and try to win the ball again."

It was a proud moment in what had been a 'surreal' feeling of being able to represent New Zealand at senior level, Savea said.

The pride was shared by assistant coach Ian Foster, who said it was the tackle that earned Savea his praise.

"I think he got into the game through his defence and that's been the biggest mover for him this year."

It didn't mean he was exempt from improvements, however. Having played through 80 minutes, the Hurricanes winger said the speed of the game at international level was understandably faster and it was up for him to improve for the remainder of the three-Test Steinlager Series.

It's a scary thought for the Irish side to learn – Savea has just got started.

The second Test kicks off at Christchurch's relocated AMI Stadium next Saturday in what will most definitely be an emotional return to the international arena for the region.