Savea hasn't been idle during break
Hurricanes openside flanker Ardie Savea hasn't sat idle during his suspension for a dangerous tackle.
Any frustration at missing out on the opening weeks of Investec Super Rugby following his tip tackle on Chiefs halfback Augustine Pulu in pre-season will all be behind Savea on Saturday when he makes his debut against New South Wales Waratahs.
"To get this four-weeks [ban] obviously was frustrating but it took me back and made me realise I got an opportunity to learn and just to watch things.
"You get that opportunity to learn about the game more, your position and the teams around you. That's what I've been doing."
Savea knows the speed and intensity of Super Rugby will be vastly different to ITM Cup where he was one of the most dynamic loose forwards in the competition.
"I've been told a lot it's quite a big step up," said the Wellington player, who was named one of the five promising players of 2012 in the Rugby Almanack. "I'm ready. I'm just excited. I know the nerves will kick in on game day but I'll take it."
His performances for the Development team have Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett confident his young flanker can make the step up without having to rein in his natural flair too much.
"He's a young guy learning the game and learning his trade. I certainly don't want to put any shackles on at the moment," said Hammett. "It's more micro detail around what he has to do. He's got all the skill and the speed.
"He doesn't really know how to take a backward step which is good. I'm really stoked for him that he gets his first opportunity in a Hurricanes jersey."
Savea is likely to go head-to-head with one of Australia's rising stars, Michael Hooper, at Westpac Stadium on Saturday.
Hooper had a breakthrough year for the Brumbies in 2012 and carried that good form into the Wallabies where he was one of their most consistent performers.
"I've watched him when he's played for Australia. He's a quality No.7," admitted Savea. "I'm really looking forward to playing against him. It'll be tough but it will be good."
The Hurricanes may yet be without All Black Victor Vito for the round eight clash. The No.8 is struggling with a calf problem and a decision on his inclusion will be made on Friday.
"He's progressed fairly well but we'll wait until tomorrow and if he's not right we certainly won't be risking him," said Hammett.
Faifili Levave will slot in at the back of the scrum if Vito fails to recover in time. Jack Lam will come into the reserves.
Ash Dixon (shoulder) and Jeff Toomaga-Allen (sternum) did however complete training on Thursday and will take their places on the bench.