Savea returns for All Blacks duty

Hurricanes loose forward Ardie Savea's trip to Samoa to visit family in Siumu comes to an end Sunday, as the 25-year-old returns to New Zealand to meet up with his All Blacks teammates for the first time this year.

Savea is among 41 players across the five New Zealand Super Rugby franchises to have been invited to a "foundation day" in Wellington tomorrow, marking the beginning of the All Blacks 2019 campaign which will culminate in the Rugby World Cup in September.

“[My wife Saskia, one-year-old daughter Kobe and I] get back late Sunday night, so hopefully the little one has a good sleep and I have a good sleep and will be ready for Monday," Savea said.

He said the foundation day will be a one-day meet-up to get everyone together and see how they are all tracking.

“It’s All Blacks mind on Monday, and then switch straight out into Super Rugby."

While nothing is guaranteed at this stage, Savea's presence among the nine loose forwards taking part indicates he is firmly in the All Blacks selectors' minds for their final 31-man squad that will go to Japan for the Rugby World Cup.

Savea said it's exciting to have that tournament on the horizon.

“That’s the epitome of playing rugby, is to go to the World Cup, and that’s always been a dream of mine.

“It’s kind of at the back of my mind, but I haven’t really put much thought into it.

“I just try to concentrate on my form in Super Rugby, and just play each week, put my best foot forward and hopefully things go my way."

Savea certainly is putting his best foot forward at openside flanker for the Hurricanes this year, leading Super Rugby in breakdown pilfers according to Fox Sports' statistics, and ranking first in the world among openside flankers and fourth equal overall in the Rugby Pass Index, which measures the statistical performance of players in the top professional leagues.

He said he thinks the Hurricanes are going pretty well, with five wins from eight games placing them second in the New Zealand conference and fourth in the overall standings.

“We’ve grinded out a few tough wins lately, and that’s where in the past some Hurricanes teams would have folded."

Savea said it was good to come into their bye week this round off the back of a last-gasp 31-28 win over the Highlanders down in Dunedin.

"Hopefully that puts us in a good place next week against the Sunwolves."

Despite Savea's excellent play in the number seven jersey, the Hurricanes forward pack is still largely seen as a weakness by fans and pundits.

“Since I started, I’ve always known the forward pack to be a target for other teams," he said.

“It’s something we kinda embrace, and we like the challenge of.

“It just gives us motivation and a bit more drive to prove everyone wrong.

“People come at us, but the tightness and brotherhood in our forward pack, we’re inseparable."

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