Earlier today our very own Ronan Calvert caught up with New Zealand star Julian Savea as he hopes to recover from a knee injury and prepare for the Barbarian’s meeting with Tonga at Thomond Park this weekend.
Just off the back of a pulsating encounter against his homeland New Zealand, ‘the bus’ was in focused form as he reflected on the game.
“Yeah it was definitely an exciting time and a special occasion. It was a just a special privilege and honour to pull on the Baabaas jersey against the brothers, the All Blacks.
Savea has clearly been enjoying the experience of touring with the Barbarians and embracing the nature of their approach to the sport, but you can’t help but notice the determination in his eyes as he seeks bigger and better things.
When named in the Baabaas squad a couple of weeks ago, rumours of him following the likes of fellow All Blacks Aaron Cruden, Malakai Fekitoa and Charles Piutau to Europe (and namely Harlequins) began to circulate. However, the 27 year old Kiwi was quick to dismiss those rumours on his social media platforms and his reasons were frank.
“Yeah, I mean I only squashed it because I have never talked about coming to the Harlequins ever. I’m in New Zealand for two more years.
With his future clear in his head, the new year brings more exciting challenges for the 47-try All Black as he returns to Hurricanes camp. This week however, he has simply taken time to enjoy this part of the world and remember friends who once called it their home.
“Limerick has been awesome at the moment and I’m enjoying it. There’s been a lot of dinners and we went out to the Cliffs of Moher yesterday. It was a bit of fun, bit windy.
“As for Munster Rugby, I know a lot of Kiwi boys that have played [here]. Close mate of mine Francis [Saili] and Doug [Howlett] played. And then obviously that game against the All Blacks that they played when the Kiwi boys did the Haka back to them which was fun.
Savea is famously just three tries away from Doug Howlett’s All Black try-scoring record and when asked how much of an inspiration the former Munster captain has been for him, he revealed he has had many idols throughout his career.
“Oh yeah, most wingers [have inspired me]. I’ve always had different idols growing up at different stages of my career. Most wingers inspired me and Doug was one of them. A big one for me was Ma’a [Nonu]. Obviously he didn’t play wing as much, but he was a close friend of mine and watching him succeed and work hard for what he got, inspired me to do what he wanted to do. And then obviously playing wing, I enjoyed the likes of Rokocoko playing the way he did and tearing teams up, and I try to base my game on that.
To round things off, I asked Julian whether he would be interested in following in the footsteps of Dougie Howlett at some stage. Zebo’s space has to be filled after all…
“If there’s space yeah sweet! I’ll go wherever I’m needed!
Don’t hold your breath on that one.
*Tickets from €15 for Adults, €10 for Juniors. Family & Group Packages are available. Visit www.ticketmaster.ie or call the Hotline 0818 719 300.