From captaining his country to how parenthood changed him

Who is Ardie Savea: Ten things you should know about the All Blacks back-row

Ardie Savea has played more than 50 times for New Zealand, becoming a regular in the All Blacks back row and leading the team for the first time in 2021.

Ten things you should know about Ardie Savea

1. Ardie Savea was born in Wellington on 14 October 1993 and is the younger brother of Julian Savea, the All Blacks winger who won 54 caps between 2012 and 2017.

2. Back-rower Savea might have ended up in the backs like his brother as he played centre at Rongotai College, in Wellington, and only moved to the pack when he entered the professional ranks.

Cricketer Bruce Edgar and former All Black centre Ma’a Nonu are former pupils of Rongotai College.

3. Aged 18, Savea made his provincial debut for Wellington in 2012 and made his first appearance for the Hurricanes, in Super Rugby, the next season. That year he played for New Zealand U20 and toured with the All Blacks as a non-playing apprentice.

New Zealand, with Savea as captain, were beaten 33-21 in that year’s Junior World Cup semi-final by eventual winners England, whose team featured Henry Slade, Jack Nowell and Luke Cowan-Dickie.

4. Savea made his international debut on 11 June 2016, coming off the bench for Sam Cane in a 39-21 win over Wales at Eden Park. He scored in his second Test, again off the bench, a week later in a 36-22 victory over the Welsh.

5. In 2016 Savea gave up his Olympic dream to concentrate on XVs rugby. He played two World Series Sevens tournaments in Wellington and Sydney but took himself out of the selection process for the Rio Olympics.

6. Savea and his wife Saskia – the couple married in 2019 – have a clothing company in Wellington, Ardie Savea Clothing Ltd, which employs around 60 people.

Saskia Savea has a Bachelor of Commerce in Management, Economics and Criminology.

7. Savea has credited the birth of his first child, daughter Kobe, born in 2018 for helping him share his feelings and he is an advocate of mental health.

“As a male and a rugby guy, I found it hard to talk about or share my feelings with Sas,” he said. “I put up a brick wall and it probably wasn’t helping our relationship or making Sas happy. But then when Kobe came along it was a wake-up call. Ever since, I’m more open.”

8. Savea was nominated for World Rugby Men’s Player of the Year in 2019 but lost out to South African Pieter-Steph du Toit.

Brother Julian was nominated in 2014 and 2015 making the Saveas the first set of siblings to make the list.

9. Savea captained New Zealand for the first time in his 53rd appearance on 5 September 2021 against Australia in Perth. The All Blacks won the game 38-21 with Beauden Barrett and Brodie Retallick acting as vice-captains.

10. Savea became the first player to wear goggles in a match at the Rugby World Cup when he sported a pair against Canada in a pool game, in Oita, in 2019. The back-rower revealed he had poor vision in his left eye and wanted to protect his sight.

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