Flanker Ardie Savea’s decision to pull out of Olympic sevens rugby contention has paid off with his selection for the All Blacks.
But while the Hurricanes loose forward was overwhelmed and speechless when he got the call-up, he doesn’t see it as justification for his sevens U-turn in April.
“No matter what happened, if I didn’t make the squad, I’m happy with the decision I made,” the 22-year-old said.
“I had a gut feeling and a change of heart. I wanted to stay in 15s and focus on my 15s career.”
Having done that, the dynamic No.7 has become one of six uncapped players in the All Blacks squad named for the three-Test series against Wales in June.
The 32-man squad includes older brother Julian, a 41-cap winger.
“It’s awesome; it doesn’t come around often,” Savea said of brothers as All Blacks.
“It’s good to be here with him. I’m sick and tired of seeing his face around in Wellington,” he quipped.
A one-time New Zealand Schools captain, Savea has had a taste of the All Blacks environment before, having been an `apprentice’ on the 2013 end-of-year tour.
He has had to bide his time since then with the likes of now-retired skipper Richie McCaw and Sam Cane among those blocking the way.
“I’ve just really been trying to focus on my own game and trying to play well in the ITM Cup and for the Hurricanes,” he said.
As understudy to Cane, Savea said his first goal in camp would be to learn as much as he could from the rest of the loose forward contingent “and whatever happens after that happens”.