Ardie Savea knew it was time to step up.

Savea has been named as captain of the Hurricanes for the 2021 Super Rugby Aotearoa season, but it wasn’t a title he sought out. In fact, he almost tried to avoid it.

“Alfie (Hurricanes coach Jason Holland) approached me and Colesy (Dane Coles) talked to me and at first I was like, ‘Oh nah’, you know, playing it down. But, I knew deep down in my heart that this season, at this time of my career, I think it’s time for me to step up and step out of my comfort zone and try something that I’m not used to. I usually just go out there and play, but it’s time to lead.”

The loose forward succeeds All Blacks teammates Dane Coles and TJ Perenara, who shared the leadership duties in 2020.

Savea said he’s been inspired by the hooker and halfback.

“What I admire about them is that they’re men of action. They lead through their actions. I think that’s the biggest way to lead and to show the brothers and to earn respect. That’s what I like to do to, lead through actions.”

Savea is a leader in the Wellington and Pasifika communities. Those connections make him the perfect fit for a Hurricanes squad made up largely of Pasifika and Māori players.

“Last year about 70 percent of our team was Pasifika. So, to be up here, I’m standing loud and proud to be Samoan, to be Kiwi. I’m here loud and proud not only representing myself, but my franchise, my brothers, my team and more importantly my family, mum and dad and everyone back in Samoa and here at home. You see Ardie, but there’s a whole whānau behind me. It’s an honour.”

Savea hopes his approachability will help the younger members of the squad reach out if they’re feeling pressure or struggling with the professional environment.

“I’m massive on relationships and connections and that’s just who I am. We all have our strengths and our qualities as leaders and I feel like that is one of them, building relationships.

“It’s about being a good human being, a good person first. That’s something I hold myself to, being kind and being gracious to others.”

_RNZ

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