Rugby | Savea looks to step up a gear

Julian Savea (Getty Images)

London – New Zealand wing Julian Savea has warned ahead of the World Cup semi-final that he does not believe he was at his destructive best in his demolition job on France last weekend.

The blockbusting Savea, who reinforced his nickname “The Bus” with three tries against France, said he can raise his performance when the All Blacks play the Springboks at Twickenham on Saturday.

“Hopefully,” he said Thursday. “I’ve prepared really well, trained really hard.

“I’ve got a lot of confidence. I can only strive to be the best I can and do well for the team and that’s where I’m at.”

The human missile bundled aside France’s Noa Nakaitgaci and Scott Spedding when taking the short route to the tryline in the 62-13 quarter-final win.

Savea’s tries took him to eight for the World Cup, equalling the tournament record held by Springbok Bryan Habana, who will also be playing on Saturday, and All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu.

There have been inevitable comparisons between Savea and Lomu.

At 1.92 metres and 107 kg, Savea is smaller than the former All Blacks star but has a better strike rate with 38 tries in 39 Tests compared to Lomu’s 37 tries in 63 internationals.

Savea has respect for the defensive abilities of his opposite South African opposite, the 64-Test JP Pietersen.

“He’s very dangerous, a good defender, chases the kicks really well and he loves to score tries as well,” Savea said.

“The semi-final brings out a different beast in everyone and though we’ve played South Africa before this week is going to be very different and a different beast.”

Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer knows that shutting down Savea on Saturday will be of utmost importance.

Meyer has described Savea as “a game breaker.”

“For such a big guy, he is a hell of a quick and it is difficult to stop him,” Meyer said.

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