It's taken a while but Ardie Savea is making the test rugby impact which felt inevitable.
Somehow he or impressive lock Sam Whitelock missed out on the man of the match award to teammate Beauden Barrett in the All Blacks opening World Cup win but the Springboks knew who their nemesis was.
Savea wore six on his jersey but he ripped up any conventional comparisons to the blindside thunder of Jerry Collins or Jerome Kaino.
His skills pressed the All Black buttons way back in 2013 when he filled an apprentice bib on the trip to Europe and that long-term investment ripened into a gold bullion production at Yokohama.
With recent loose-forward vacancies, Savea's punishing mix of dynamism forced and helped the coaches design new tactics they believe will give them an edge for the Japanese tournament. He is an enforcer like his predecessors but his threat is not restricted to banging bodies and clumping tackles.
Savea is the free-range flanker, asked to do all the basics and encouraged to use his instincts and apply his personal stamp on the side. That trust from the coaches and Savea's gifts drew a resounding credit as the All Blacks won their crucial pool game against a rugged opponent.
He and his teammates were under immense heat in the opening quarter, cut off from much possession by the powerful Boks and looking skittish when they had the ball. They needed help and Handre Pollard's penalty rebound from close range then Faf du Plessis' pass which missed his target offered the way back.
In a blink of a bat's eye, George Bridge and Scott Barrett scored with Savea a central figure in both stunning attacking raids.
His support play, churning leg-drive to crease anyone but an emphatic defender, picking the right moment to attack a breakdown and his defiant tackling continued throughout this rousing showing from two sides who rank up with the favourites to contest the title in early November.
The All Black victory says they will top their pool and earn an easier quarterfinal but a simple message about 2007, Cardiff and France from the coaches will quash that concept in the squad.
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Success from the All Blacks has given the Boks a yardstick and will elevate the concern of England, Ireland, Wales and Australia who are hovering around the topline in favouritism.
That performance will have tuned them into the multiple threats from a reshaped All Black team pattern and the danger Savea creates. He's been there or thereabouts before, playing blindside, sometimes No 8 on the open or on the bench and linked into traditional styles.
In his 35th test the All Black coaches sent Savea out to challenge convention and provoke a bit more unease from teams aiming to dethrone the champs.
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