All Blacks and Hurricanes back-row Ardie Savea has ambitions of playing in the NRL and could make a switch to the 13-man code as early as 2021.
Savea, who was named the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year at the 2019 New Zealand Rugby awards, is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of next year.
The 26-year-old made his debut for the All Blacks in 2016 and has represented his country in 44 Tests. The revelation that he is interested in switching codes could spark a bidding frenzy amongst NRL clubs.
Savea, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, said he was inspired to make the switch after playing alongside former All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams for the All Blacks.
“100 per cent (I want to play Rugby League),” Savea told the Ice Project podcast with former New Zealand Rugby League representative Isaac John.
“I just think they (the players) do a lot more in terms of off the field stuff than New Zealand. And also, just a new challenge. I want to test myself.
“Learning a whole new game and seeing if I can dominate or play the way I play in union and if I can do that in league. That excites me.
“Seeing guys like Sonny do it and the way that has benefited him. It kind of plays on my mind a bit.
“It sucks that I got this injury because I was low key thinking about it (switching to league) for next year.”
PLAYER OF THE WEEK | 2019 International Tests
All Blacks' Ardie Savea was everywhere in their shutout of the Wallabies. Showing his brute strength with two early runs that set the tone for his team. His late steal put sealing their big win.#PlayeroftheWeek #NZLvAUS pic.twitter.com/fHgJqYuKOq
— Super Rugby/TRC (@SuperRugby) August 21, 2019
Savea has also played for his country on the World Rugby Sevens circuit. He is a dynamic ball carrier, who possesses plenty of speed which could make him a threat in the 13-man game.
He also played outside centre as a youngster, meaning he could be used in the back-line.
Savea revealed that he would be keen to play for Melbourne Storm or Sydney Roosters if he moved to the NRL.
“Strategically I would want to go to a team that was good or dominating, like the Melbourne Storm or the Roosters,” he said.