16 Sep 2016

Ardie Savea gets his chance to shine

1:09 pm on 16 September 2016

Dynamic All Black flanker Ardie Savea gets his best chance to lay claim to Richie McCaw's vacated crown tomorrow night and usurp Sam Cane as the openside heir apparent.

Ardie Savea scores his first try for the All Blacks.

Ardie Savea scores his first try for the All Blacks. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With Cane out injured, Savea gets his first run in the famous No.7 jersey against South Africa in Christchurch, and he'll line up alongside brother and winger Julian, as just the 10th set of siblings to start an All Blacks test together.

All Black players Julian and Ardie Savea.

All Black players Julian and Ardie Savea. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Ardie Savea burst onto the international scene in the June test series against Wales, providing a palpable impact in his three performances off the bench.

He now gets his shot in the jersey worn by All Black greats such as McCaw and Michael Jones, and Savea is understandably nervous.

"For me it's about not letting that jersey down, there's been a lot of legends that have worn that jersey and for me it's just going out there and putting in a good performance and not letting the jersey or the brothers around me down."

All Blacks brothers Julian and Ardie Savea.

All Blacks brothers Julian and Ardie Savea. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Despite his inexperience - he's played just five tests - Savea's star has shone so bright many pundits have been calling for him to take over as the regular openside starter.

However coach Steve Hansen said Cane was safe, for now, and the onus was on Savea to live up to the standards set by those who came before him.

The All Blacks' flankers Ardie Savea and Sam Cane.

The All Blacks' flankers Ardie Savea and Sam Cane. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"Obviously there's a lot of history there there's been some great No.7's and the guy he's taken it (the jersey) off is playing really well, that's Sam Cane, and the guy before him (McCaw) was obviously a legend so Ardie's got to now come out and do the job Sam's been doing, the hard work."

With Cane likely out for the rest of the Rugby Championship, Savea should get an extended stint in the starting XV.

If the 22-year-old plays as well as he has been, Cane's reign on McCaw's throne could be short lived.

As for the Springboks chances of beating the All Blacks in Christchurch? Even South African pundits have written them off.

The Boks have lost seven of their last eight games against the All Blacks and haven't beaten New Zealand in Christchurch since 1965.

Journalist Jacques van der Westhuizen, from South African newspaper The Star, conceded that was unlikely to change.

"This weekend the Springboks have a chance, they always have a chance when they play the All Blacks as they lift to another level. But it's a long shot because of where the two teams are at the moment, so South Africa have a chance but you'd have to favour the All Blacks.

Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett has called the current team a "B division" side, claiming the difference between them and the All Blacks "is like night and day".

Current coach Allister Coetzee said his side was full of self-belief but even he conceded they would need to produce a perfect performance to win.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee.

Springbok coach Allister Coetzee. Photo: Photosport

"A team like New Zealand and the confidence that they have means we (the Springboks) have to cut out any soft moments in the game and we've really got to come up with a 10 out of 10 peformance to compete."

But the reality is that the bookies have given South Africa next to no chance of winning, and they'll need a touch of the divine, rather than just belief, to upset the All Blacks on Saturday night.