Savea battling to overcome mental rut

Date published: June 16 2016

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All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen believes a mental rut is the cause of first-choice left wing Julian Savea's poor recent form.

Despite scoring a try in last weekend's victory over Wales in Auckland, Savea delivered a listless display and was replaced shortly after half-time.

Savea's has been battling with his form for the Hurricanes this year and was not at his best against Wales. He was subsequently dropped for this weekend's second Test against Wales in Wellington.

Hansen pointed out that by the time Savea was replaced in Auckland he had touched the ball four times while his wing partner Waisake Naholo had 17 touches.

"When someone's bogged down, they're normally a bit clunky and they're stuck and you don't see them doing much," Hansen told AAP.

"When you see them training really well but then you see them have a performance which is clunky and pretty wooden, you can usually tell without having to be a psychologist that there's something going on.

"He just wasn't Julian."

Savea had an issue with his weight, midway through last year, which resulted in him missinmg several Tests before he delivered several impressive performances at the Rugby World Cup in England.

The 25-year-old's fitness was identified as a problem again this year as he battled to reach top form with the Hurricanes earlier this season but Hansen said that is no longer a problem.

Hansen feels Savea's problem is that he is trying to hard to return to his best form and is over-thinking too much which has led to him not enjoying the game anymore.

"When you do that, you end up being like a robot really," added the coach.

"We want the instinctive Jules and when he's like that, he hurts people.

"In the past he probably hasn't worked hard enough but that's not the issue at the moment. He'll get another opportunity."

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