Julian Savea, a man who has had issues with his weight during his All Black days, is fasting during Ramadan in support of his wife, Fatima.

Savea isn't a Muslim but hasn't eaten pork for years – he and Fatima married two years ago – and he said today observing the holy month and learning about a new religion was an interesting and enjoyable experience.

Those following the month of Ramadan don't eat or drink during daylight hours unless pregnant or suffering from illness.

Savea, who started on the right wing for the Hurricanes in their defeat to the Crusaders in Christchurch last Friday, is following his first fast, and is walking in the footsteps of former All Black teammate Sonny Bill Williams, a committed Muslim.


Williams converted to Islam a decade ago and started observing Ramadan while playing in France before his return to New Zealand to play in 2010. He told the Herald recently a mindset change from "enduring" to being more accepting during the fasting had been beneficial.

Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images.
Julian Savea. Photo / Getty Images.

For Savea, new to the practice, the challenge is likely to be a more difficult one.

"The first couple of days have been tough but nothing too stressful," Savea said. "I guess I'm just trying to adopt [Fatima's] culture and learning as much as I can but I wouldn't say I'm a full Muslim as I don't know too much about it. I'm still learning."

Savea, 27, was a fixture on the All Blacks left wing between his debut in 2012 and the middle of last year, after which time he has been overtaken by Blues rival Rieko Ioane.

Savea's strike rate of 46 tries in 54 tests marks him out as one of the best finishers the game has seen but a loss of form, and the large number of in-form wing rivals such as Waisake Naholo, Nehe Milner-Skudder, Ben Smith and Israel Dagg have seen him fall quickly down the pecking order.

He was also overlooked for the Hurricanes during their playoff run last season, coach Chris Boyd picking Milner-Skudder and Wes Goosen ahead of him, but has played in 11 of the Hurricanes' 12 matches this season after turning down an offer from the Chiefs in order to remain in the capital until his contract finishes at the end of next year.

Savea's weight often fluctuated while with the Hurricanes, and in 2016 he was dropped by the All Blacks as a result of it. He said the key to surviving fasting was to "buy time" and stay busy rather than to stay at home all day when not training.

He has switched to the right wing to enable the in-form Ben Lam to wear the No11 jersey and said of his team's 24-13 defeat to the Crusaders at AMI Stadium which brought their 10-match winning streak to a close: "A lot of things went wrong, obviously. We probably 'over-played' in the conditions… [we didn't get the balance right] between kicking and playing in our own half. So, a lot of discussions there.


"In saying that, the Crusaders played well and capitalised on their opportunities."

The Hurricanes will be guaranteed dry conditions in their next match under the roof in Dunedin against the Highlanders on Friday.