WATCH: All Blacks star Ardie Savea opens up after ‘throat-slitting’ gesture backlash

Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea clashes with Rebels' Aidan Morgan during their Super Rugby match. Picture: William West/AFP

Hurricanes captain Ardie Savea clashes with Rebels' Aidan Morgan during their Super Rugby match. Picture: William West/AFP

Published Mar 4, 2023


Melbourne, Australia - All Blacks forward Ardie Savea has apologised for making a throat-slitting gesture towards an opponent during a Super Rugby Pacific match in Melbourne, conceding he needs "to be better".

Hurricanes captain Savea ran his thumb across his throat during a verbal exchange with Melbourne Rebels halfback Ryan Louwrens after being shown a yellow card in Friday's round two match, won 39-33 by the New Zealand side.

The 29-year-old Savea, regarded as one of the world's premier players, was shown the card for "escalating" the situation according to referee James Doleman, with players from both teams involved in a fracas late in the first half.

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Rebels veteran Reece Hodge complained immediately to Doleman that stiffer punishment was needed as Savea's gesture towards Louwrens was "threatening to kill him".

Savea, who has played 70 Tests for the All Blacks, including four as captain, admitted he lost control and regretted the action.

"I can understand the fans are furious around the gesture that I made," he told host broadcaster Stan Sports.

"Kids are watching us, we're in the heat of the moment. Usually that's out of character for me, so I put my hand up first and I apologise for that."

Savea said the fiery encounter with Louwrens was "just normal banter in the game", but accepted it wasn't a good look from a player regarded as a role model.

"We're trying to clean up the game. I understand, there's no excuse for me, I've got to be better."

He revealed he got a dressing-down from his father after the game.

"I got off the field and my old man called me and kind of groaned me off so that's a lesson learned," he told reporters.

"He's a pretty calm dude, it's not often I get a call like that after the game. Mum was in the crowd too and she asked if I was all good, because usually I'm not like that."

Savea's action overshadowed his dominant on-field performance at No.8, having scored the first two Hurricanes' tries and set up the third.

It helped seal his team's second straight win of the season after beating the Queensland Reds 47-13 the previous week, while piling pressure on the Rebels who have now lost two-from-two.

Savea could face further penalty from the tournament judiciary, a worry for coach Jason Holland with a big clash against the Auckland Blues looming next week.

"Obviously I hope it doesn't go any further," Holland said. "Ards is not happy with that but we all make errors and we've got to just accept them and get on with it."