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No All Blacks influence on Savea

Following Ardie Savea’s withdrawal from Olympics consideration this week, New Zealand Rugby has confirmed that no external pressure has been placed on availability of players for either format of the game.

Speaking at New Zealand Rugby headquarters in Wellington this morning, CEO Steve Tew said claims that Ardie Savea was swayed from Olympics contention by the offer of an All Blacks jersey were unfair.

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“I know for a fact that there has been no direct contact from the All Blacks coaches or selectors to Ardie Savea.

“I was party to a conversation with Steve Hansen and Richie McCaw on the way to the Laureus Awards last week talking about how much depth they have at seven and how they can cover that until Ardie comes back from the Olympics – if in fact he was to be selected,” Tew said.

Looking at the wider sevens programme, Tew emphasised that the Rio Olympics are a priority for the organisation.

“We have invested literally millions of dollars into the men’s and women’s programme, significantly more money than we have put near sevens in the past. If you look at women’s programme, we now have a group of fulltime professional athletes which we would have never envisaged if we weren’t going to the Olympics.”

The Rio Olympics take place from August 5-21.