Discarded All Blacks winger Julian Savea has revealed he fell out of love with rugby this year but says he is determined to earn his spot back with another season at the Hurricanes despite speculation he would leave the franchise.
Savea, an ambassador for the Brisbane Global Rugby 10s tournament, was sensationally left out of Steve Hansen’s All Blacks squad for the Rugby Championship.
The 27-year-old has scored 46 tries in just 54 Tests for New Zealand, putting him 11th on the all-time list.
After a below-par year for the Hurricanes, Savea has opened up about the toughest year of his stellar career to date.
“I can believe I’m not in there,” Savea said. “The boys are in form and the guys in the position deserve their spot. As you saw in the last two Tests, they have proved why they’re there.
“It was more about not really enjoying rugby. I’m not sure if you could tell that by the way I played but I know I need to get back to why I play this game and what drives me.
“The motivation is even greater. I just want to bring enjoyment back to rugby.
“You’ve got to be on top of your game, always. There’s no time to switch off and I’ve switched off quite a bit.
“I ain’t ruling myself out anytime soon. I know I’ve got a lot of stuff to work on and I’m excited by the challenge. Initially I was disappointed but I’m happy now to sit back and reflect on where I am and excited about the challenge to get back in the team.”
Reports indicated Savea was thinking about utilising a clause in his contract to leave the Hurricanes, but the man known in rugby circles as “the bus” confirmed he would stay at the club and play at the 10s tournament in February next year.
“I’ve decided to stay with the ‘Canes,” Savea said. “There was a lot of things I had to weigh up with everything that’s happened. I think the ‘Canes is probably the best thing for me and it’s where my heart is.
“I’m definitely playing [in Brisbane]. Last year I wanted to play but we weren’t allowed. It looks quite exciting, fast, physical, a little bit of sevens, a little bit of 15s which is good. I love that stuff. It’s a growing tournament and it was a success last year.”
Savea was driving to a mate’s house during the first 20 minutes of Saturday’s Test between the Wallabies and All Blacks and it is safe to say he was shocked to see leading 17-0 after 15 minutes.
“I turned up and saw the score and I was like: ‘wow, this is going to be a good Test’,” Savea said. “I was a little surprised and good on them, it was a hell of a Test to watch.
“It shows why the All Blacks are one of the best teams in the world; to be able to come back late in the game and score that try. Credit to the Aussies, they’ve got things to look forward to.”