Hurricanes power on amid Savea storm
April 22, 2013
Julian Savea is in the midst of fending off the biggest off-field challenge of his career so far © Getty Images
The message was 'business as usual' at Hurricanes training on Monday despite the ongoing situation involving Julian Savea.
The All Blacks wing took no part in the session after his appearance in the Wellington District Court where he faces a charge of common assault stemming from a domestic incident with his partner on April 14. He has been remanded on bail until May 15 and is free to play for the Hurricanes while the court proceedings continue.
The Hurricanes play the Stormers in Palmerston North on Friday night before leaving the following day for a two-game tour of South Africa. Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett refused to say whether Savea would play against the Stormers but said a decision would be made on the winger's inclusion in the touring party later this week.
"We've a few things to go through, as does Julian," Hammett said.
The coach felt the rest of his players were coping with the disruption and were able to focus on the Stormers game.
"Let's remember in the sport we play we deal with difficulties and adversity week after week," Hammett added. "It's something we're having to deal with as a team and as an individual and as families and so naturally that's how it will stay."
Captain Conrad Smith admitted it wasn't ideal.
"But as professional rugby players you deal with situations like this," Smith said. "It's something different but you've just got to move on. Unfortunately you get distractions of all sorts of different natures during a season and during a career. You've just got to find a way to move on."
"We've talked about it as a team. But obviously as a team we've got to worry about our jobs to do and that's Friday night and an important game up in Palmerston North," Smith added.
Women's Refuge have expressed their disappointment that Savea played against the Force last Friday night despite being charged by police the previous Monday evening. But Hammett, who knew about the incident and charge on the day it happened, stood by that decision.
"There was a lot of consultation with Julian and myself and other parties. We would never play someone if it was going to affect the individual or the team," Hammett said.
The Hurricanes coach also said the franchise would continue to support Savea.
"He's part of our family and that's really important to remember," Hammett said. "Like any family member we need to look after and support and also challenge. That's what we'll be doing. He's shown over his very short career he can handle ups and downs. Unfortunately, this is another challenge that Jules is going to have to deal with. As the Hurricanes family we're going to help him through that."
Smith said he would have no qualms playing alongside Savea if the winger was selected.
"It's not for us to pick a team. Whoever is selected they're part of this Hurricanes squad and we trust and back everyone in the team," Smith said. "I can't judge the serious nature of the charge or the fact that he is playing. It's not up to me. I know Jules, he's a guy I rate as an individual and as a player. That's the way I approach it."
Smith had some sympathy for young players, such as Savea and Crusaders winger Zac Guildford, who have found themselves in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.
"People make a big deal about rugby and the problems we face - and sure we do. But like a lot of people say, it's a reflection of the wider community," Smith said. "You take any sector of young men and you'd have problems in any employment, not just rugby."
"I just feel more for them that they have to learn their lessons on the front pages of papers," Smith added. "[But] the reality is that that is the environment that they have put themselves in, and they have to learn it that way."