He is the young man with a rapidly growing profile inspiring others with his electric performances in the black jersey and decision to wear goggles in order to protect his vision, and now Ardie Savea has revealed his own sporting heroes.
They are, in no particular order, The Rock, Ma'a Nonu and Joe Rokocoko; a professional wrestler/entertainer/director/actor/businessman, and two former All Blacks considered the best in the business and capable of lighting up a rugby pitch like few others.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Herald this week, Savea, a key Rugby World Cup asset for the All Blacks, revealed that the entertainment side of the game is important to him. It shows. But important for him too is the mental side of it because he says that's allowed him to go to the next level.
The former perhaps comes as no surprise given his all-action style in a breakout year during which he has convinced the All Blacks coaches that he is too good to leave on the reserves bench. The latter, the need to remind himself of who he is and need to keep things in perspective, is a constant, he says.
A bit like American-Samoan global identity Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Savea can just about do it all. In August, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika called Savea, who has played 42 tests and turns 26 on Monday, a "hybrid-type" loose forward. But, the young man who wasn't considered big enough to be a flanker at school but persevered and honed his talents by knocking over big brother Julian and his mates, is probably more accurately described as the near perfect player.
But, first, his heroes.
"We watched wrestling as kids," Savea says. "The Rock was my favourite. Obviously footy was big in our family and I looked up to Ma'a Nonu because he was from the same club and the same community. It was like 'man, someone from here can make it to the top'. He was our inspiration. And Joe Rokocoko. He was someone I loved to base my game around when I was a little kid."
Some of the All Blacks rubbed shoulders with members of the Houston Rockets NBA team here in Toyko recently, including stars Russell Westbrook and James Harden, two of the biggest names in the sport.
So, has Savea met The Rock? "Nah man, I'd love to, though," Savea says. "I'd buzz out, it would be awesome to meet The Rock. He's tweeted me before. I was rubbing that in the boys' faces. Some random person posted a photo of myself and him and said how similar we looked. He tweeted that person back and was like, 'yeah, it's in the Samoan blood', or something. That was pretty cool."
The adoration of Nonu, the 103-test All Blacks midfielder who played at Savea's Oriental Rongotai club, and wing Rokocoko, who scored 46 tries in 68 tests, comes from closer quarters.
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"I was a little kid when Ma'a was starting to make it big with the All Blacks," Savea says. "He was someone the whole community really looked up to. I remember posting a photo of when I was probably about seven [alongside him] and I took another when we played at the Hurricanes together. That was special, amazing.
"His razzle," Savea says, continuing with Rokocoko. "When you're young you see the guys who score the tries, obviously. Joe was doing that; his tries from chip kicks from 80m out. His dive – I was mimicking his dive when I scored tries. And his windmill step that he did; I was trying to do that, too. He always looked like he was having fun on the field."
Big brother Julian, three years older than Ardie, and a man who tore up the World Cup for the All Blacks four years ago – he scored 46 tries in 54 tests – has clearly been a big influence.
It is generally acknowledged that two ways of accelerating a child's sporting development are, one, playing a wide range of sports, and, two, doing it in a supportive environment alongside older children. Ardie was fortunate to have both and he issued a note of warning that some children these days are being fast-tracked into rugby academies which may not be in their best interests.
"Mum and dad played rugby. Jules was obviously the man at it. And I was always going to be drawn into it. We enjoyed playing lots of sports; volleyball, touch, basketball, cricket. We loved being outside and doing that allowed us to learn different skills.
"I know times have changed but back then I wasn't thinking of professional footy until the last year of college. I was just enjoying rugby for what it is. You see now there are academies for kids at a very young age and you can see how it can be draining too. People think you need to be professional but there's a balance between hard work and having fun."
Savea played in the midfield during his final year of school but before that was a specialist flanker. He can now add the ability to play tests at No 8 to his growing curriculum vitae. That background as a centre may account for his positional awareness and ability to appear as comfortable near the sideline as he is close to the ruck but he says his fast feet came from his many years playing touch rugby.
"I had those skills at a young age and I just happened to love contact as well. I remember being small growing up and being told 'you might be too small for flanker' but because Jules was three years older I'd always try to play for his team and it allowed me to prove people wrong. I'd tackle bigger guys and that's where I found my love of contact.
"It's just instinctive," he says of his famous leg drive and ability to keep going no matter how many defenders he is dragging along. "I'm not the biggest forward and I'm not going to run straight at a 130kg prop because you know what's going to happen. You just have to use what you're good at and for me that's trying to use my feet to try to beat a defender.
"I'm slowly getting heavier. I don't know if my metabolism is slowing up but it's helped having that extra weight. A big thing for me was getting myself mentally right which has allowed me to just be free and play.
"Most of it was wellbeing; making sure I was in the right head space and figuring out who I was as a human and as a rugby player and backing that. It's work every day. You have to figure it out each day."
Every day, Savea is starting to sound more like a sporting hero in his own right.