Will Julian Savea be a candidate for the greatest All Black?

Julian Savea had a good tournament at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The All Blacks winger finished as the top try scorer, racking up a joint-record eight tries in a single campaign and the way he’s going, Savea is on target to eclipse a number of New Zealand records and has plenty of successful years ahead of him if he remains injury free.  His hair will have to improve markedly as well, mind.

Savea has scored 38 tries in just 41 appearances for the national team and has been compared to the recently departed New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu. His natural position is on the wing, but as is the way with the modern world-class flyer, he does not feel constrained by hugging touchline and pops up all over the field.  His hat-trick in the World Cup quarter-final against France is the perfect example to show just how versatile Savea is in New Zealand’s attack and the power he brings.

New Zealand were expected to win the competition. However, would they have been able to achieve their ultimate goal without their talismanic winger? If he continues to defy the odds and shine on the world stage, Savea may well get his name right up there as one of the greatest ever.

Early in 2015, a Microgaming Rugby Star game was released to coincide with the Rugby World Cup. You can get a feel for a range of Microgaming options here but the Rugby Star game included all of the most talented rugby players of all-time. Savea will one day hope to see himself included is such a game rather than being left out, or worse placed in a game called Crap Rugby, with Jamie Noon on the cover.

New Zealand will already be looking forward to their next major competition and a number of their key players have shuffled off to coaching, media work, or in McCaw’s case becoming a cheating helicopter pilot. But with all the changes, Savea will remain in place and if he continues to score at his current rate, he will quickly surpass Doug Howlett’s record of 49 tries in Test matches for New Zealand. Who knows, he could go on to beat Daisuke Ohata’s tally of 69 Test match tries.  Ohata, remember, got most of his because Japan play utter dreck most of the time; Savea topping it given New Zealand’s usual standard of opposition certainly would put that achievement into perspective.

For all his obvious ability, he can go off the boil.  Even during the Rugby World Cup he had anonymous matches and if he is to get himself into that top bracket of All Blacks then such inconsistency will have to be banished.  But it is very easy to forget that he is still only 25, such has been his meteoric rise, and arguably remains three years away from his prime.  Watch this space.

About Lee

Owner, editor, not a fan of Haskell.


Given his achievements so far he definitely can, and arguably should, become one of the greatest ever. However, one thing I’ve noticed about NZ selection patterns is that they seem to change their wingers more regularly than other positions. Anyone agree? They churn out world class wingers like no tomorrow (as with all positions) but wing seems particularly strong. Perhaps its easier to settle into international rugby on the wing, especially in an AB’s jersey, so they’re more willing to change. Or maybe its purely coincidence as they don’t have as many ‘established’ players on the wing at the moment. Maybe i’m reading too deep.


That said, he is certainly a chance to become the highest test try-scorer in All Black history. But he needs to keep fit and not turn up overweight as he did after this year’s Super Rugby season. He had to do a lot of conditioning work to get ready for the RWC.

He also needs to perform in a really critical match. Yes, he had a great quarter-final, but he was relatively anonymous in the semi-final and final (although in the final he was the closest in support for Nonu & Barrett’s tries). He had a poor game in the Super Rugby Final which included bombing a near certain try.

There’s also another reason why he’ll never be the greatest ever All Black: it’s reserved only for forwards; firstly Colin Meads and now Richie McCaw. We like our backs in New Zealand, it’s why we give them the ball, but it’s forwards we extol.

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