NZ expects Super improvements from Aussies

All Blacks winger Julian Savea expects the gap between Australian and New Zealand teams in Super Rugby to close dramatically this year.

Last season was a year to forget for Australian franchises when they did not win a single match against a trans-Tasman rival.

But Hurricanes star Savea tips that embarrassing 26-0 streak won’t last much longer.

Following the controversial axing of the Western Force, Australia’s rugby talent is now spread across four teams instead of five and improvements are expected across the board – particularly from the Melbourne Rebels.,

The Rebels have been easybeats since their introduction to Super Rugby but could well take out the Australian conference this season if their suddenly Wallaby-laden squad can click under new coach Dave Wessels.

Savea said it wasn’t healthy for rugby to have the New Zealand teams winning all the time.

“I’ve always thought the Australians have been competitive … I guess we missed that a little bit last year,” Savea told AAP.

“But now the teams are looking stronger and with the depth in those squads, it’s going to be more competitive – which I love, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the New Zealand and South African teams love.

“It’s only going to be good for the tournament. It’s better for everyone.

“The more often those favourite teams can lose to the not-so-favourite teams. I like that. I love the underdog.

“I went to a school where we were underdogs all the time. I like that storyline, it gets people excited, it makes the fans want to watch.”

Savea, meanwhile, is hopeful of regaining his Test spot this year but won’t be too broken-hearted if it doesn’t happen.

He was unexpectedly excluded from New Zealand’s Rugby Championship last year on his 27th birthday with Rieko Ioane, Waisake Naholo and Hurricanes teammate Nehe Milner-Skudder named ahead of him.

But Savea said time spent in the Mitre 10 Cup with the Wellington Lions renewed his love for the game.

“I know (the All Blacks) don’t like to change too much unless they have to,” he said.

“Even if I do play good it’s not guaranteed. I’m just going to play the best I can and have fun and if it happens, it happens.”

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
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