Super Rugby Pacific: Ardie Savea's throat-slitting gesture suspension won't count towards All Blacks rest, coach Jason Holland confirms

Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea's Super Rugby Pacific ban won't count towards his All Blacks-enforced rest, coach Jason Holland says.

Savea, 29, will miss Saturday's encounter against the Blues after he was given a one-week suspension for a throat-slitting gesture against Melbourne Rebels last weekend.

The influential No.8 faced the prospect of a two-week ban, but judicial committee chairman Nigel Hampton KC said Savea's gesture didn't reach the threshold of a red card.

Ardie Savea's throat-slitting gesture.
Ardie Savea's throat-slitting gesture. Photo credit: Sky Sport

But in spite of losing their captain, the Hurricanes won't look to use the week as one of Savea's designated stand-downs.

This year, All Blacks playing Super Rugby are again subject to rules that limit their involvement, as a means of keeping them physically and mentally fresh for this year's World Cup in France.

Players' involvement week to week is limited to a certain number of games, before they are required to sit out of rugby altogether.

However, with such a big occasion on the horizon, Savea will not stay away from the Hurricanes this week, and will actively help his teammates prepare to face the Blues, his coach confirmed.

"Part of the All Black rest is that the boys get out of the environment," said Holland. "It's really important to Ardie, especially talking to him this morning, that he helps this group prepare for the Blues in the weekend.

"He'll be in, and he'll be doing everything he possibly can to get the group ready for the Blues in the weekend.

"We'll look at the possibility of a rest later in the rounds. I don't see this as an opportunity to use up one of his All Blacks rest - I see this as an opportunity for Ards to help the group get ready to play the Blues."

Ardie Savea.
Ardie Savea. Photo credit: Getty Images

While the Hurricanes accept Savea's punishment, Holland added the incident against the Rebels doesn't change his standing within the side.

As the team's captain, Holland says Savea should have known better than to make the gesture towards the opposition, but understands that players - even as leaders - make mistakes.

"He is an example for the rest of the team," he added. "Every other minute, I've seen him be a really, really good example for the rest of the team.

"He continues to be that, and was that just after the incident happened.

"Like all of us, you can be a pretty special captain and special leader and make a mistake. That's what's happened with Ards with a bit of adrenaline going.

"I don't think there's anyone who doesn't make mistakes, and that's what's happened to today for someone who is a great leader, and great inspiration to our boys."

Savea's absence leaves a huge hole both on and off the field for the Hurricanes to fill.

The No.8 is one of few players to command a guaranteed starting position each week at Super Rugby level, but will now have to be replaced.

Outstanding Wellington loose forward Peter Lakai looms as a likely replacement after a breakout season in the NPC last year, but Holland is giving nothing away as to who'll come into the side in Savea's place.

"When you lose an All Black, and someone who's a massive part of our team like that, it's always a blow.

"We'll finalise who plays [against the Blues], but we've got some pretty awesome loosies.

"There'll be a combination of guys off the bench, and young guys with something to prove in there.

"Hopefully that makes up for a bit of what Ardie would have offered."