Planet Rugby

Hammett defends Savea omission

05th March 2014 16:41

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Mark Hammett Hurricanes coach 2013

Firm: Mark Hammett

Hurricanes boss Mark Hammett has backed his decision to bench precocious openside Ardie Savea for the second week running.

Savea, younger brother of All Blacks winger Julian, is hugely rated in New Zealand, with Steve Hansen taking him on board in the national setup as a non-playing member of the November tour party.

So when Hammett chose to exclude the back-row from his starting lineup twice in quick succession - even when rival Faifili Levave was ruled out thanks to a failed concussion test - the pressure on the coach from media and supporters rose rapidly.

"(Fellow flanker) Jack Lam for us has been outstanding, he was probably our outstanding player on tour and he's a Samoan international, so firstly Ardie has to overcome that," Hammett told New Zealand media.

"The other side is Ardie will see time and plenty of time through this season. He's a fantastic player and guy we're looking forward to seeing him out there.

"He's a very good player, but he's a young player and like anyone who has either made the All Blacks or made Super teams, they are still learning, they still have parts of their trade to improve on and Ardie's no different. He's working hard behind the scenes.

"There are elements not just on the field. He has to work hard on his strength and size, but that takes time. You don't just put size on in five minutes or even five months. He's got targets of where he wants to go and he makes up for it with his power and speed.

"There seems to be a big fuss about it at the moment, but I don't know what the fuss is to be honest. He's a great player and in time he's going to get there."

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