Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd is expecting plenty from forward pack hit men Victor Vito and Ardie Savea in a Super Rugby semi-final which could boost the Test aspirations of both.
Boyd rates Savea among the unluckiest players not to win selection in the 41-man New Zealand squad announced on Sunday.
He expects the response to be compelling when the 21-year-old confronts accomplished Wallaby David Pocock in Saturday’s showdown against the Brumbies in Wellington.
Savea’s dynamic game style has lifted to another level since his inclusion on the 2013 All Blacks end-of-year tour in a training and observation capacity.
It wasn’t enough for a promotion last week but Boyd reckons the 21-year-old is ready if injury befalls All Blacks captain Richie McCaw, Sam Cane or Matt Todd.
“I think Ardie’s been particularly good for us this year. I don’t have any doubt his time will come,” Boyd said.
“The other guys are a good crop of openside flankers as well so he just has to suck it up and get on with it.”
No.8 Vito made the cut and is putting pressure on Liam Messam to win a World Cup berth.
Boyd said the 28-year-old is shedding the tag of being a skilled player who doesn’t pack the physical clout of the best loose forwards.
“The nice thing from Victor is that he’s often been branded as not tough enough. Well, he’s got the highest dominant tackle rate of anyone in Super Rugby this year.
“In the defensive area, he’s stiffened up really well.”
Complementing the duo will be either Blade Thomson or Brad Shields, who have rotated on the blindside flank all season.