Julian Savea has eclipsed Jonah Lomu in one respect and will now try to do so in another when the barnstorming All Blacks winger lines up against South Africa in the Rugby World Cup semi-finals.
Savea bagged his fourth career hat-trick in New Zealand’s 62-13 dismantling of France in their quarter-final at Cardiff on Saturday (Sunday AEDT), earning man-of-the-match honours.
A typical performance based around speed and raw aggression took Savea to 38 tries in just 39 Tests.
It lifts him to fourth on the all-time All Blacks list, one ahead of Lomu, the former juggernaut winger to whom Savea has been compared in recent years.
It also gave 25-year-old Savea eight tries for the tournament, equalling the record shared by Lomu (1999) and South African Bryan Habana (2007), who is likely to be on the Springboks left wing at Twickenham on Saturday next week.
Habana has scored five tries at this tournament, lifting him level with Lomu on 15 for the all-time RWC tally.
Lomu famously never scored in 12 Tests against South Africa and Savea is also yet to get off the mark in five appearances against the Springboks.
Savea was quick to praise his teammates following the performance in Cardiff where he terrorised his opposite, Fijian-born Noa Nakaitaci, with a series of thumping tackles and barging runs.
“It was awesome. I was really proud of the boys,” he said.
“I try to get as many (tries) as I can but it was a huge performance from the boys, the forwards really stepped up and there were some silky skills from the backs.”
It has been a prolific tournament for the All Blacks wingers, with the diminutive Nehe Milner-Skudder crossing once against France to take his tournament tally to five.
MOST TRIES AT RWC 2015
8 – Julian Savea (NZ)
5 – Bryan Habana (South Africa), Gareth Davies (Wales), Nehe Milner-Skudder (NZ)
4 – DTH Van Der Merwe (Canada), JP Pietersen (South Africa)
MOST ALL BLACKS TEST TRIES
49 – Doug Howlett (62 Tests)
46 – Christian Cullen (58), Joe Rokocoko (68)
44 – Jeff Wilson (60)
38 – Julian Savea (39)
37 – Jonah Lomu (63)
36 – Tana Umaga (74)
35 – John Kirwan (63)