The Hurricanes have bolstered their outside back stocks for the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season, while bringing back an old friend.
Former All Black winger Julian Savea has signed for the 2021 campaign. The man nicknamed 'The Bus' played for the Wellington franchise between 2011 and 2018, garnering 120 caps and 52 tries, and steering them to their maiden title in 2015.
Savea joined the team for the final two weeks of the 2020 season but did not feature in an on-field capacity. His latest appearances have been for Wellington in the Mitre 10 Cup.
Returning to the Hurricanes is one goal Savea can tick off his to-do list. But there is a new at the top of the page, which comes in the form of the black jersey. When asked if he wants to return to the All Blacks, Savea answered "100 per cent".
"At the moment [the All Blacks] goal is still there, once I've finished with this season then I'll re-evaluate what I want to do next," he says.
"I definitely want to get back to the top, if I put myself in a good position with my body and mind."
The 30-year-old already has a wealth of experience representing New Zealand, in the form of 54 test caps, 46 tries and a World Cup winners medal.
Following a fruitful 2015 World Cup campaign where he was top try scorer and named in the tournament team, Savea quickly fell out of favour with All Blacks selectors, with the likes of Ben Smith, Rieko Ioane and Waisake Naholo passing him on the wingers depth chart.
Savea is grateful to have the chance to even be back in the rigorous realms of Super Rugby, let alone have a crack at the All Blacks again. His powerful build will become quite the asset for the Hurricanes in what is sure to be another physical competition in 2021.
"Just real grateful for the opportunity, to come back and also put on that yellow jersey again and be amongst the brothers. I understand the work that needs to be done," he says.
He suspects his cameo appearance in and around the team this year helped his cause.
"For me it was just getting back into that environment, and getting use to the load of everything, the trainings, the weight sessions. Ultimately it probably would have helped.
"The only thing I can really control is the consistency of my play and being able to put myself in position where I can give my teammates the best of me."
The departures of fellow wingers Ben Lam and Kobus van Wyk from the team made the addition of Savea logical. Coach Jason Holland describes Savea as a Hurricanes "legend".
"We've kept an eye on Jules since he came back from France and [have] been really impressed with what we've seen. He's in great nick and looking pretty powerful but he's also been awesome off the field.
"I love the idea of a winger that's nice and powerful these days, we've seen it at international level and getting that momentum from your wingers is pretty important in my eyes.
"Good to have diversity in what the strengths of the wings are."
Meanwhile, Holland says they now have a spot to fill with the departure of longtime halfback TJ Perenara, who is heading to Japan following this year's Rugby Championship in Australia.
Holland says they will not look offshore for his replacement.