Lions tour: Julian Savea hoping to make his chance count in series decider

  • 07/07/2017
Julian Savea at All Blacks training
Julian Savea at All Blacks training Photo credit: Getty

The Bus is back in service - after a brief refuel.

Julian Savea will line up in his customary spot on the All Blacks' left wing for Saturday's British and Irish Lions Test series decider at Eden Park, capitalising on the illness of 20-year-old livewire Rieko Ioane to reclaim the No.11 jumper.

With 46 tries in 53 Tests, Savea's raw power and ability to finish the most difficult of chances has made him an All Blacks mainstay.

But in a sign that the back three under Steve Hansen has become a horses-for- courses proposition, the 26-year-old Savea's muscle and go-forward was traded for Ioane's sheer pace in the first two Lions Tests.

It was a move that upset Savea, for a time.

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, it definitely hurt," Savea said.

"You can sulk for half a day or something like that, but you need to switch your head around and do what's best for the team - in my case, help the boys prepare.

"It's massive, but I'm just excited to do what I've been doing, and that's to play rugby and do what I can for the team this week."

Hansen was loath to give away Savea's role for Saturday's clash, but clearly hopes his bustling winger can crash through the Lions' rear-guard.

With Ioane under the weather and Waisake Naholo rested after last week's second- Test concussion, his experience would also be key.

He will make up a back three alongside Israel Dagg and young Hurricanes teammate Jordie Barrett, who is making his first Test start along with Ngani Laumape.

The trio played in the Hurricanes' 31-31 draw with the Lions last Tuesday, in what was the tourists' final midweek encounter.

"It's not too bad to be able to pull a bloke like that out," Hansen said.

"It's going to be a physical Test, it has to be - every Test is won up front. We won the first one up front, they won the second one up front, so whoever wins that battle at the weekend will probably have a smile on their face."

NZN

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