Steve Hansen believes that All Blacks winger Julian Savea already offers more than Jonah Lomu did in his heyday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Johannesburg.
Savea has often been compared to the iconic New Zealand No 11, not only because of his build and speed, but also because of his prolific try-scoring record.
The comparison was made again following the All Blacks’ Test against Argentina, as Savea powered through the defence to score a try similar to the one scored by Lomu against England at the 1995 World Cup. That score took the 24-year-old Savea's individual tally to 27 in 27 Tests.
When Hansen was asked to compare the two players on Thursday, he said that the incumbent No 11 had the potential to become one of the all time greats, and that he was well on his way to surpassing Lomu.
‘He’s got more to his game,’ said Hansen. ‘I genuinely believe he will just get stronger the more he plays. He’s good on the ground and in the air, and as you can see, he’s an outstanding ball-carrier.’
Lomu scored 37 tries in 63 Tests. He was, as the stats suggest, less successful against South Africa, failing to score a single try in the 12 games played against the Boks.
South Africa’s record against the ‘New Lomu’ is just as good. Savea is yet to score a try against the Boks, despite having played four Tests against them.
However, what many will forget is the opportunities Lomu created for teammates in those games against the Boks. Often the big man attracted two or three defenders, and thus created space for the likes of Jeff Wilson and Christian Cullen to score.
The Boks would do well to contain Savea at Ellis Park this Saturday, but they will also note that Savea is but one of seven gifted players in that All Blacks backline.
The Bok defence limited the All Blacks attack to just one try in the previous meeting between the two sides in Wellington on 13 September. A similar effort will be required if they’re going to beat the All Blacks in Johannesburg this Saturday.
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