New starting flanker for the All Blacks, Ardie Savea, is under no illusions about what to expect in the Rugby Championship Test against South Africa in Christchurch on Saturday.
It will be the biggest match, of the highest intensity, that Savea will have been involved in but he is looking forward to the challenge it will provide.
In Christchurch on Thursday he shared media duties with older brother Julian and there was plenty of time for brotherly banter between them.
The week had been spent on his individual preparation, working on what South Africa would be bringing and making sure he was ready for the opportunity which he is grateful for.
“I know it’s going to be a tough battle, especially against South Africa. I’ve just got to work hard and I know I’ve got 14 other guys next to me that will keep pushing me and who will have my back. I’ve just got to worry about nailing my role in there and just doing it to the best of my ability,” he told the All Blacks‘ official website.
Julian Savea said it was a very special feeling starting a Test with his brother. Having pretended to be All Blacks as children in the backyard and said it was somewhat surreal to find themselves in that situation now.
Ardie Savea said he had his eyes opened on the 2013 November tour to Europe.
“It’s all the little details that they do in the environment that stood out for me,” he said.
Then it was a case of returning home and working on the areas it had been suggested he work on.
He acknowledged many All Blacks legends had worn the number seven jersey and for him it was a case of going out and not letting the jersey, or the players next to him, down.
Julian Savea said there was no special game in their youth that convinced him of Ardie’s potential. Rather it was the way he wanted to play in Julian’s age-group grade team instead of in one involving players his own age. And the way he tackled bigger players at that stage convinced him his younger brother had it.
Playing against South Africa was borne on the legacy between the two countries, it was tough competition and was something he had always understood since watching Tests, and being nervous about the outcome, as a child.
“We know these guys will always get up against us and the physical battle, it’s always there and always a challenge,” he said.
Asked if he thought South Africa always got up against New Zealand, Julian Savea said, every team was always at their best against the All Blacks and that was good because by playing teams at their best also made the All Blacks play to their best.