Hertford Highlander

If you’re good enough you’re old enough

Written by Gwyn Pratley (Hertford Highlander)

Posted in :All Blacks, Original Content, Super Rugby on 10 Oct 2012 at 23:09
Tagged with : , , , , ,

In about 1994 I was at Carisbrook on game duty for the Otago Rugby Union. That sounds more impressive than it actually was, in reality I was simply there because the team I was coaching then was playing in the curtainraiser to the main game. The main game that day was New Zealand Secondary School Boys versus England Secondary School Boys. Because the match day official saw me floating around after our game he cornered me and said ”Quick mate I need a hand … help us out!” He then proceeded to throw me the keys to the teams dressing rooms and said “When the referee comes out knock on the team doors and get them out then lock the dressing room doors behind them”. No big deal on the face of it but I will always remember what happened next. Upon getting the English team out and their door locked behind them. I went to do the same with the New Zealand side. As I opened the door a schoolboy stood in the doorway, a schoolboy like I had never seen before –that schoolboy was Jonah Lomu. He was as big then as he seemed later in his career an absolute giant of a kid that not only took that game by the scruff of its neck but just about every other game he played from that point on.

The young Lomu quickly established himself as a household name with the New Zealand public as he rose to fame on the New Zealand Sevens circuit before being fast tracked into the full national side.

I remember at the time the popular opinion was that he was too young and should be left to develop and mature not only as a player but also as a person.

However that was then and this is now.

Last year’s New Zealand Under 20 side (that lost to South Africa in the final) has already had a few players snapped up for Super Rugby contracts – the captain Bryn Hall will be under the tutelage of Sir John Kirwin at the Blues while young centre Jason Emery, I am pleased to report will ply his trade for the next three seasons in Dunedin with the Highlanders.

Yesterday, however another young man signed a Super Rugby contract here in New Zealand. He was in his last year at school last year. Since then he has not let the rugby grass grow under his feet. This year he has played senior club rugby in Wellington playing all three back-row positions as well as on the wing (mainly because his coach thought that he may need to manage his workload with grown men). He has played for the New Zealand Sevens team and is just now bringing the curtain down on what has been a truly stand-out season of ITM Cup rugby (where in my opinion he has been the best, yes the best player on show). All this and he is still only 18 years old. This weekend he will turn 19 and I am sure when his big brother comes around for lunch he will have stories of what it is like being a young man in an All Black jersey. Big brother is Julian Savea the Hurricanes and All Black winger. The player that has been turning heads for a while now is Julian’s little brother Ardie Savea. Ardie has played openside flanker this year in the ITM Cup for the Wellington Lions and it looks like Mark Hammett has designs on him continuing to develop his game there next season with the Hurricanes but don’t rule out a shift to the backs like a certain Jonah Lomu at the same age that played No. 8 (a position Ardie Savea is also comfortable).

Ardie Savea is quality folks, remember the name.

Last night I heard a guy say “Gee with McCaw on sabbatical next year who is going to step into the breach”. I laughed to myself because I think I heard the same guy say the same thing when Michael Jones was coming to the end of his career before Josh Kronfeld stepped up. Then he said it about Kronfeld before McCaw and now he is saying it about McCaw. I wouldn’t take bets against him saying the same thing about Savea in 10 years’ time.

I wish you well in the coming years and like a talented young man that was about your age when I first saw him back in 1994 – I still hold to the old adage of…. ‘If you’re good enough you’re old enough’.

Congratulations on your Super Rugby contract Ardie Savea and happy 19th birthday.


  • Super talent is young Ardie Savea. Hopefully he’ll take to the game like his older brother has

  • Comment 1, posted at 10.10.12 23:52:34 by Ludz Reply
  • Jeepers, they just keep getting younger and younger! The Franks brothers, the Whitelock brothers and soon the Savea brothers. And to think he still has 2 years u20 left!!

  • Comment 2, posted at 11.10.12 08:52:51 by Argex Reply

Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.