All Blacks: Savea set for big learning curve against Pumas

By Patrick McKendry of APNZ in Buenos Aires

Julian Savea takes part in an All Blacks training session held at St. George's College, Buenos Aires. Photo / Getty Images
Julian Savea takes part in an All Blacks training session held at St. George's College, Buenos Aires. Photo / Getty Images

Julian Savea concedes the prospect of a test against Argentina in Buenos Aires is the biggest challenge of his short All Blacks career but he doesn't have to look too far back for some reassurance if he needs it.

He was a standout player on the wing for the all-conquering New Zealand Under-20 team in the world championships in the same country two years ago, bagging eight tries and the IRB Junior Player of the Year award.

"For sure, it's always hard to play here in Argentina. There is a lot of noise. It will be a great challenge,'' Savea said.

Now in the big time with the All Blacks, he has packed a fair bit into his first year with the team.

He scored three tries on debut at Eden Park against Ireland in June, struggled a week later against the same opposition in Christchurch and was dropped for the third test in Hamilton.

He bounced back with a try on his return against the Pumas in Wellington and another steady performance in the victory over the Springboks in Dunedin a week later.

Now, though, the Pumas lie in wait on their own territory; primed by the challenge they have already set the All Blacks in a 21-5 defeat in Wellington, their narrow loss to Australia, and their 16-16 draw with South Africa. This really is a whole new ball game.

"They're going to be fizzing, it's going to be exciting,'' Savea said.

"I guess it's still a dream come true. It's still all a bit overwhelming, but I'm really excited and it's just great to be in this environment.

"I just have to find ways to get involved. If I get the opportunity, I guess that will be my main goal this weekend.''

* Patrick McKendry flew to Argentina courtesy of LAN Airlines (www.lan.com).

- APNZ

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