25 Apr 2016

NZ Rugby says Savea decision all his own

12:18 pm on 25 April 2016

New Zealand Rugby's general manager of rugby Neil Sorensen says they are disappointed Ardie Savea has pulled out of contention for the the Sevens Olympic team and insists no pressure was applied to the potential All Black.

Ardie Savea in action at the Wellington Sevens.

Ardie Savea in action at the Wellington Sevens. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Hurricanes loose forward has decided to concentrate on fifteens.

Savea joined the All Blacks Sevens training squad this year and was a member of the team that won back-to-back tournaments in Wellington and Sydney.

He was to be involved in the last two tournaments of the season in Paris and London before trialling for the Olympic Sevens team in June.

Neil Sorensen said they were disappointed he pulled the pin so late but they respected his decision.

"He could well have made a huge impact at Rio as he's a classy player and he proved that again in Wellington and Sydney."

He said the All Blacks coaching staff had fully accepted Savea's move to Sevens and there had been no outside influence on his late change of mind.

"They knew they'd lost him to sevens, and they backed that, they knew they'd lost him for June anyway and they were right behind it. No, I can tell you that our All Black guys certainly didn't put any pressure on our guys to pull the pin."

Neil Sorensen admitted there was concern other players in Savea's position might follow suit.

He said managing Rio aspirations with other demands had been one of the hardest things New Zealand rugby have had to deal with over the last few years.

"We needed to ensure we didn't decimate the playing stocks of the Super Rugby teams, that was really important to us and important to Tietjens and everyone really.

"Second thing was we had to make sure that we didn't you know take two half-backs, two five-eighths and three wingers from the All Blacks especially with those guys losing some talent over the last few months.

"As well as giving ourselves a chance of putting together a team that was capable of winning at Rio and then also balancing the fact that we've got sevens specialists who have been in the game and playing the game for a long time."

All Blacks Sevens coach Sir Gordon Tietjens said Savea had made a real impact during his return to sevens.

"Of course, we're very disappointed as we've enjoyed having him back. There's little doubt Ardie could've been a key player for us in Rio, but we respect his decision."

Sir Gordon said they still had a strong squad of players motivated to perform in Rio.

"That's creating great competition for places so we're very excited about the next two tournaments as we shape the best team for the Olympics."