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World Cup final defeat ‘puts fire in belly’ of All Black Savea for 2027

New Zealand No 8 Ardie Savea said on Sunday losing the Rugby World Cup final gives him extra motivation for the next edition of the tournament in 2027.

Savea’s All Blacks were beaten 12-11 by South Africa in Saturday’s final.

Despite defeat, which he also suffered with New Zealand at the semi-final stage four years ago, the 30-year-old was named World Rugby player of the year.

Savea beat Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth, France captain Antoine Dupont and Ireland centre Bundee Aki to the prize.

“It’s put the fire again in my belly to rectify it,” Savea told reporters.

“I’ve experienced this twice now, 2019 and 2023 and being a leader in this team it’s not a nice feeling.”

Savea started all but one of New Zealand’s seven games at the World Cup and he becomes his country’s first recipient of the award since full-back Beauden Barrett in 2017.

The Hurricanes loose-forward guided the All Blacks to a record 20th Rugby Championship this year.

“I’m very honoured and blessed to receive the award,” Savea said.

“We lost last night and that really hurt so it’s nice to have something positive,” he added.

Former France flanker Thierry Dusautoir in 2011 is the only other player to have taken the prize, awarded since 2001, after losing a World Cup final.

‘Golf or tennis’

Ireland’s Andy Farrell was named coach of the year after leading the side to a Six Nations Grand Slam, although his team went down to the All Blacks in the World Cup quarter-finals.

Englishman Farrell pipped the other nominees in South Africa’s Jacques Nienaber, New Zealand’s Ian Foster and Simon Raiwalui, who helped Fiji to the World Cup quarters.

Etzebeth is the only South African in the team of the year, along with the three others nominated for player of the year.

“It’s team trophies you want to win,” the 32-year-old said.

“If you want to win individual awards then you should probably play golf or tennis.”

“That takes nothing away from Ardie, he’s been exceptional this year,” Etzebeth added.

World Cup hosts France and Ireland have 10 representatives in the side, despite being knocked out in the tournament’s last eight.

Savea and three of his compatriots — second-row Scott Barrett, fly-half Richie Mo’unga and winger Will Jordan — are included.

Etzebeth is part of an ageing Boks forward pack which includes emblematic captain Siya Kolisi, who will be 37 by the time the next World Cup starts in Australia.

“Hopefully if I get chosen, I’m not going to stop,” flanker Kolisi said.

“It would be great, but I don’t know, you can never tell. But at this point, I feel ready to play.”

Dan Carter, a double World Cup winner with New Zealand, and South Africa’s 2007 World Cup winner Bryan Habana were among a number of former greats inducted into World Rugby’s hall of fame.

Ex-Wallabies flanker George Smith, former Argentina playmaker Juan Martin Hernandez and Dusautoir were also honoured.

Four women’s awards, including the player of the year, will be handed out after the ongoing WXV tournament which ends early next month.

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