All Blacks star Ardie Savea has revealed he wants to play in the NRL and would consider a switch to the 13-man game as soon as next year.
Savea is among the All Blacks’ best and is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021.
With the 26-year-old having played 44 Tests for New Zealand since his debut in 2016, he would almost certainly spark a bidding frenzy among NRL clubs.
The loose forward would likely fit the mould of a second-rower in the NRL and will be the biggest name convert from union to the NRL since Sonny Bill Williams in 2013.
Williams’ return to rugby league with the Toronto Wolfpack has seen him become the highest paid player in the history of rugby and rugby league after signing off on a $10-million two-year deal.
No NRL club would be able to offer Savea anything close to the fortune Williams is being paid, but he could quickly become one of the highest paid players in the NRL if a bidding war does eventuate.
Currently sidelined with a knee injury, the Hurricanes star said he was inspired to make the switch after playing alongside Williams for New Zealand.
Ardie Savea could write his own check in the NRL.Source:Getty Images
“100 per cent (I want to play rugby league),” Savea told the Ice Project podcast with former Kiwis half Isaac John.
“I just think they (the players) do a lot more in terms of off the field stuff than New Zealand. And also, just a new challenge. I want to test myself.
“Learning a whole new game and seeing if I can dominate or play the way I play in union and if I can do that in league. That excites me.
“Seeing guys like Sonny do it and the way that has benefited him. It kind of plays on my mind a bit.
“It sucks that I got this injury because I was low key thinking about it (switching to league) for next year.”
The New Zealand Herald described Savea’s declaration as a “bombshell”.
A dynamic and powerful runner, Savea has also played rugby sevens and also possesses speed that would make him a threat on the edge for any team. He also played outside centre as a junior, meaning he could be used in the backline.
Ardie Savea with former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.Source:Getty Images
The Wellington junior said he would have his eyes on playing for Melbourne or Sydney Roosters if he joined the NRL in pursuit of success — notably overlooking Kiwi club New Zealand Warriors.
“Strategically I would want to go to a team that was good or dominating, like the Melbourne Storm or the Roosters,” he said.
The possible future interest would come as a gift to both teams, who have dealt with the losses Will Chambers and Latrell Mitchell over the off-season.
The Roosters also had success in 2013 with Williams, but he had played five years in the NRL with Canterbury between 2004 and 2008.
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