Julian Savea all-round star like Umaga
April 12, 2013
Julian Savea is in rampaging form for the Hurricanes © Getty Images
Julian Savea's dedication and leadership are pleasing the Hurricanes as much as his Super Rugby highlights reel.
The powerhouse All Blacks winger continued his fine form when he terrorised New South Wales Waratahs defenders while scoring two tries last weekend, and he is sure to menace the Blues at Eden Park on Saturday.
His form prompted one journalist this week to suggest after training that Savea had streaked away as the world's premier winger. Hurricanes backline coach Alama Ieremia dodged the question, but the former All Blacks midfield back did say that Savea's raw talent matched up well with some of the world-class players who roamed open spaces during the peak of his own career in the late 1990s.
But instead of comparing Savea with iconic winger Jonah Lomu - as many observers do - Ieremia leaned more towards another Wellington, Hurricanes and All Blacks household name. "In my mind he's probably more like Tana Umaga in terms of his all-round skills when he was on the wing," Ieremia said. "Julian's well-balanced, he's agile, he's got a kicking game that can go with it, and he's slowly starting to get accurate on defence. We've just got to be careful we don't talk him up too much, but he's certainly impressive at the moment."
Ieremia said fans of Savea's spectacular on-field moments - he scored 12 tries in nine Tests last year - might be surprised at the 22-year-old's heavy work ethic and the time he spends on analysis.
"He's pretty classy at the moment, Jules. It's important for a second-year All Black. He's come back and provided a lot of leadership and stability for us and given a lot of the boys confidence. He's matured and that's great to see because obviously we get the benefits."
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures