ZInzan Brooke: Ardie Savea now a viable No 8 option

Ardie Savea 1566171342

As he does nine times out of 10, mostly off the bench, he adds a lot of value to the All Blacks. Steve Hansen, rightly, gave him an opportunity to start against a decent team.

I thought he was outstanding off the back of the scrum. He made good yardage and cleared the ball off the deck when required. He didn’t do much wrong and would rate an eight and a half, out of 10, at a minimum.

He can win lineout ball at the front. He’s got added spring even without the lifters.


Savea is certainly an option to start again at No 8 if needed, but you have to get the right loose forward combination. I would like to see Savea get another start there on the northern tour. I see he will add impact off the bench in Pretoria this weekend, so I expect him to again play well.

There were questions asked of some of the less experienced forwards in Argentina, but they showed good purpose and direction, controlled the exchanges and were very convincing in the scrums. That comes back to the depth in the squad and their overall form during the Rugby Championship.

Can the Springboks go back to back this weekend against the All Blacks? You can pose the same question of Savea: can he perform like that again at No 8?

The real pressure is on the Springboks to deliver consecutive wins against the All Blacks, This is the time they have to step up. The Rugby Championship may be decided but this is the All Blacks versus South Africa. The All Blacks know what they need to do. It’s about staying in the game, controlling it and then squeezing the life out of them.

The All Blacks have chosen close to a full-strength side. That is out of respect for the Springboks, what they can do and what they have done. This is a shadow side for what we might see in 12 months’ time at Rugby World Cup. I’m delighted with the selection.

Up here in the UK there were comments that the All Blacks were clearly outplayed in Wellington, but it was a close call. We scored more tries than them and, if anything, it as been a good thing because it keeps the All Blacks grounded.

Loftus might not be the fortress it once was – that 1996 Test was an epic – but the Springboks will chuck the kitchen sink and more at it. They just need to ensure they keep control. There is an element of ill-discipline, offside and that sort of thing, that creeps into their play. But they are moving in the right direction, so this will be a massive Test match. It’s nine years since they last won back to back against the All Blacks.

The Boks will need to be better than they were in Wellington, but the All Blacks should be quite relaxed, even with revenge in the back of their minds. They’ll do the job.

Both sides look powerful on paper, but the All Blacks should win by 8-11 points and be better over the full 80 minutes.

Ardie Savea 1566171342