Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Midweek Fixture: Julian Savea is such a try-hard

By Dylan Cleaver

As this photo clearly illustrates, Savea was guilty of an over-the-top effort against Wales. Photo / NZ Herald
As this photo clearly illustrates, Savea was guilty of an over-the-top effort against Wales. Photo / NZ Herald

Julian Savea has scored 39 tries in 43 tests.

I'm no mathematical expert, but to the naked eye that looks like a try every 1.10256410 tests. That's not quite as good as, say, a five-pointer every 1.0936308 tests, but still pretty good. We all loved Christian Cullen, right, but his 46 tries in 58 tests looks tight-head proppish by comparison.

But Savea's major contribution to the sporting landscape this season has not been tries, nor thumping tackles, nor the diffusing of aerial attacks. He's not top of the pops for anything in 2016 unless they've invented a stat for meh-ness.

His greatest contribution has instead been to popularise the new most stupid saying in sport*: "He's trying too hard."

Savea was pretty bloody awful in the first test against Wales at Eden Park this year.

"The issue here is that he's probably trying too hard," said coach Steve Hansen.

He was dropped for the second test, presumably to work a little more on not trying. Wouldn't you know it, he instead seemingly spent the fortnight between the first and third tests trying.

"I could see it last night," Fox said in the aftermath of the Dunedin dead rubber, where Savea struggled as those around him prospered. "He's trying so desperately hard to do well, it's almost like he's trying too hard."

So back to Super Rugby Savea traipsed, an environment where surely he'd be allowed to play his natural not-trying game. Surely the old Jules would return?

Alas, in the Hurricanes hard-fought win against the Blues, Savea was again largely anonymous. To make matters worse another coach, this time Chris Boyd, caught him trying.

"He tries bloody hard, Julian," Boyd said. "He's done a lot of extra work. He works hard and he's probably got himself into the stage where he's over-working and over-trying."

This trying malarkey is a serious business. If what Mssrs Hansen, Fox and Boyd are saying about Savea is right, it changes the paradigm. No longer can we tell our kids we don't mind if they succeed or fail, "just as long as you try your best".

That's yesterday's thinking, get with the programme. Instead we'll be shouting ourselves hoarse on the sidelines of Saturday morning sport, trying to get our progeny to be a little more lazy.

Perhaps it's not just Savea. There might be a whole range of critical failures we can pin on this trying phenomenon.

Gigli - Ben Affleck trying too hard.

Scientology - Tom Cruise trying too hard.

Anything the Rolling Stones produced after 1981 - don't be fooled into thinking they have been mailing it in, they're actually trying super-hard.

Whichever way you slice it up, these are trying times.

* The old stupidest saying in sport is "form is temporary, class is permanent". No it's not. Death is permanent. Class is temporary, form is fleeting.


SPORTS SHAREMARKET

I'm torn on the... Tour de France

This time of year has me in emotional, navel-gazing turmoil. I love the TdF. I hate the TdF.

I love the scenery, the theatre of the bunch-sprint finishes, the climbing duels and heart-in-mouth descents. I hate the trains, mostly Team Sky, who chug out monotonous tempo racing.

I love watching Alberto Contador dance on the pedals as he climbs the Tourmalet and Ventoux, but I hate that he not only tested positive in 2010 for PEDs but lamely tried to blame it on clenbuterol-tainted beef.

On the one hand it is just extraordinary that we ask these athletes to cover more than 3500kms, including two mountain ranges, in three weeks, yet we feign horror when we discover many are susceptible to looking for ways to improve the delivery of oxygen to their muscles.

Like I said, Le Tour is a battleground for conflict, both external and internal.

Sell. Buy.


I'M READING ...

This should resonate with all New Zealanders who can remember back to 2007, 2003, 1999... A long history of overreaction.


MY LAST $10

Another mid-range setback.

Last week: For the second week in a row I came unstuck at the hands of a nail-biting AFL upset. France came through in thrashing Iceland, the Brumbies duly beat the hapless Reds, but the Swans were turned over at home by the Western Bulldogs, costing me $21.40.

This week: Simple. A no-tricks tenner on the Blues to beat the Brumbies by 12 and under at $ 2.90.

Total spent: $210 Total collected: $264.65

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