Setting the bar high
June 14, 2012
Sitiveni Sivivatu is congratulated on his four-try debut for the All Blacks © Getty Images
Julian Savea announced himself on the international stage with a memorable debut against Ireland last Saturday. In doing so, Savea became the seventh All Black to notch a hat-trick of tries on debut. This week's Scrum Sevens looks at the players to have achieved that significant feat.
Frank Mitchinson v Australia, Sydney, July 20, 1907
The Hawke's Bay centre was one of the great early All Blacks. He finished his international career with 31 appearances to his name - including 11 Tests - and also crossed for a total of 22 tries. His Test debut was against Australia in 1907 and his hat-trick helped the Kiwis dispatch their perennial adversaries 26-6.
After playing in the next two Tests, he did enough to secure his spot in the side for the Test series against an Anglo-Welsh side - later to become the British & Irish Lions - the following year. He crossed for a hat-trick in the third Test, a New Zealand record only matched by Stu Wilson when he crossed three times in the fourth Test against the Lions in 1983.
Mitchinson went on to make a further five Test appearances for the Kiwis and captained the side on their tour of North America in 1913. He was the oldest living All Black when he died aged 93 in 1978.
Tiger Lynch v Australia, Wellington, September 6, 1913
Thomas 'Tiger' Lynch only played four Test matches for the All Blacks but scoring a hat-trick on your debut against Australia is enough to cement your name in the history books. In a thoroughly one sided match, the All Blacks downed their rivals 30-5 with Lynch's efforts added to by further scores from Doddy Gray, Toby Murray, Dick Roberts and a brace from Jock McKenzie. He journeyed with the All Blacks to North America, along with Mitchinson, in 1913 and played 11 matches while on tour, scoring an impressive 17 times in the process.
Lynch - who went to St Patrick's in Wellington, the home of future All Blacks skippers Jerry Collins and Maurice Brownlie - was the 177th All Black and could have added more to his four Tests had it not been for the outbreak of the First World War which saw New Zealand halt play until 1921.
Jeff Wilson vies for the high ball on his All Blacks debut © PA Photos
Jeff Wilson v Scotland, Murrayfield, November 20, 1993
One of those annoyingly talented sportsmen who could've played Test cricket along with starring for the All Blacks on the international stage, Wilson finished his Test rugby career with an unbelievable strike rate of 44 tries in 60 appearances. He took his bow for the Kiwis against Scotland in 1993 alongside fellow debutant Marc Ellis, who was to later score the most tries in one Test match when he grabbed six against Japan at the 1995 Rugby World Cup. But Ellis only managed two scores in the All Blacks' 51-15 triumph with Wilson crossing for three.
Wilson stands fourth on the list of all-time All Blacks try-scorers and turned out in both the 1995 and 1999 World Cups for the New Zealanders while playing for the Highlanders in the early days of Super Rugby. And he would also add cricket ODI caps to his collection of international honours having earned a place in the Black Caps' squad for the 2004-05 season.
Christian Cullen v Samoa, Napier, June 7, 1996
Regarded as potentially New Zealand's greatest ever fullback, Cullen started his international career as he meant to continue with a hat-trick against Samoa. And he went one better in the next Test as he crossed for four against Scotland. He finished his time with the All Blacks with an impressive record of 46 tries in 58 Tests - here are 41 of them - and sits two places above Wilson on the all-time records. The scary thing is that he could've scored even more had it not been for an injury which blighted his last couple of years with the international side.
Cullen switched to Munster in 2003 and injuries prevented him from playing as many games for the Irish province as they would have wanted but even this does not detract from his status as one of the sport's all-time greats.
Troy Flavell v Tonga, North Shore City, June 16, 2000
Scoring a trio of tries on your debut is an impressive feat, managing that when you're a lock is even more so. Yes it came in a 102-0 win so Flavell's hat-trick is probably masked by the century of points, but it's still a debut to remember. The All Blacks ran in 15 tries on the day with four debutants in the side - Flavell, Doug Howlett, Filo Tiatia and Greg Somerville.
Flavell never got to play in a World Cup for the All Blacks with Sione Lauaki preferred to him in 2007 but he has had a fairly colourful career. Spells in Japan with Toyota Verblitz and Shane Williams' new side the Mitsubishi Dynoboars have been sandwiched between spells with the Blues and the Chiefs in Super Rugby. Flavell is currently turning out in the Top 14 for Bayonne alongside fellow former All Blacks Neemia Tialata, Joe Rokocoko and old foe Lauaki.
Sitiveni Sivivatu v Fiji, North Shore City, June 10, 2005
Julian Savea was the star of the show for the All Blacks on Saturday © Getty Images
Cut from the same Wesley College cloth that produced Jonah Lomu, Fijian-born Sitiveni Sivivatu announced himself on the Test stage with a breathtaking four-try showing against his country of birth. A record of 29 tries in 45 Test appearances followed and he turned out in the 2007 World Cup for the Kiwis with the All Blacks possessing a trio of lethal options on the wing in the form of Joe Rokocoko and Doug Howlett alongside Sivivatu.
Fast-forward four years and Sivivatu missed out on selection for the 2011 World Cup with the likes of Cory Jane, Israel Dagg and Zac Guildford preferred. His omission, along with that of Hosea Gear, raised eyebrows the world over, but their narrow win over France put such decisions down to Graham Henry's genius. Sivivatu is now tearing up the wings in the Top 14 for Clermont Auvergne and with Napolioni Nalaga returning to Les Jaunards next term, they will possess one of the most lethal wing pairings the league has ever witnessed.
Julian Savea v Ireland, Auckland, June 9, 2012
Former IRB Junior Player of the Year Savea is blessed with blistering pace and a solid rugby head. After scoring his hat-trick against Ireland on Saturday, he was immediately mentioned in the same breath as fellow star debutant Sivivatu. He had a quiet 2011 Super Rugby season but has really turned on the afterburners this term with one aspect of his game - the ability to break through tackles - drawing the inevitable comparison with legendary winger Jonah Lomu. Praise indeed.
But while he has been making a name for himself on the field as a winger who has the potential to be a star at the next World Cup, he was previously known for his penchant for dancing, something he unleashed in this year's Super Rugby competition.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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