Havili itching for opportunity against South Africa

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Second five-eighths David Havili said playing the Springboks on such a famous ground would be a special occasion, and he was hopeful for his first chance since recovering from a hamstring injury that, at one stage, threatened his participation in the Rugby World Cup.

Springboks' second five-eighths Damian de Allende was fascinating to Havili, given their battles throughout their careers.

"He's a great player, and has got a lot of physical attributes and plays the game in a way where the gain line is his goal and he does that a lot of the time. It's been cool to have a few battles with him over the years and if I get the opportunity it will be another great one."

Havili said he took his return carefully and did everything to give him his chance to be in the World Cup squad.

It had been tedious but worthwhile, and playing for Tasman in the Bunnings NPC had boosted confidence.

Since returning, he has been working on getting up to play with the calls and reconnecting with the players to do his bit for the side's preparations. Training at the higher intensity the All Blacks operated at was also a boost.

"It's 11 weeks now so I'm looking forward to putting that all behind me and getting back out on the park."

Seeing Jordie Barrett perform so well in Havili's usual position had been outstanding.

"Being able to see him execute his skill set like he does under pressure and that's something I'll be working closely with him, his little kicking short game, subtle touches he does and takes pressure off our 10s [first five-eighths'] to make sure that they are controlling the game. It's been awesome to get back around him and I'll do that over the next couple of days as well."

Changes the side has achieved compared to 2022 were obvious to see, and he was impressed with the mindset within the team from week to week.

"They're playing with a lot of open space, playing what they see so it's been great being on the outside and being a fan of the boys eyeing it so well, it's awesome."

All Blacks v South Africa (Rugby World Cup warm-up): Saturday 26 August, 6.30am NZT, Twickenham, London.


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