19 Oct 2019

All Black Savea talks visualising game, pink ring, music

3:16 pm on 19 October 2019

All Black star Ardie Savea will run out onto the field against Ireland tonight wearing a silicone pink wedding ring and visualising how best to play.

All Black Ardie Savea

Ardie Savea says he likes to wear a wedding ring at all times, and sports a pink silicone one on the field to avoid injury. Photo: RNZ / Joe Porter

They are among the techniques the loose forward uses to keep calm and focused on the match, he said.

The All Blacks take on Ireland in a sudden death Rugby World Cup quarter-final in Tokyo tonight and both teams' mental preparation will have to be on point if they're to progress to the final four.

Defending champs New Zealand are favourites to advance but Ireland are a strong side and the former number one ranked team in world rugby.

So how do the players get themselves in the right frame of mind to deal with the burden of expectations and the pressure that comes with playing knock out rugby?

Savea talked RNZ through his preparations to gear up for a match and get ready to go.

"I like to get out on the field and listen to my worship songs," he said.

"I can give thanks and reflect in my head. Yes, I am talented and blessed with a gift, but there is more than that, it is also about having fun and putting a smile on peoples faces."

He said he tends to visualise the game.

"Yes I try to visualise myself out there doing my role well. But sometimes I will visualise I am stuck in the mud and I try to visualise how to get out of that state."

Music is a key part of his preparation.

"I really like T-Pain. The bit I'm a variety kind of dude. I love my DJ Noise, remixes, island stuff ... I'm into that kind of stuff."

Asked about his tattoos, Savea said he carried his mother on one arm, and his father on the other.

"They're among the most important people to me. Obviously, there's my wife (Saskia) and my daughter (Kobe), too, and all these people have made me what I am.

"Behind them is the hibiscus flower, the traditional flower of Samoa and my grandmother's favourite flower."

And Savea reveals he likes to wear a wedding ring at all times, including on the field.

He sports a pink silicone ring during the tournament to replace his hard metal ring which could cause injury.

"I like the pink, it's like bang!"

All Black Ardie Savea's tattoos of his mum and dad

Savea tattoos of his parents. Photo: RNZ / Joe Porter

Savea thinks about his wife and daughter as he heads out into the middle.

"That's the whole point of listening to my worship songs, to be thankful for all the people who have got me there and to think of the memories of them. It keeps me nice and calm, too.

He said he also missed his dogs back home in Wellington.

Savea said: "I have two, a boy and a girl, they're huskies and they keep me busy, man. Don't get me started.

"The thing about animals is that they bring so much joy into your life. I miss them too and I can't wait to go back after this is over. People don't tell you about the shedding though, every time anyone comes round to our house I tell them not to wear black as they'll leave covered in hair.

"They're good running buddies. I take them walking in the hills and mountains of Wellington and for runs around the streets. They're perfect."

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