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Howlett | ‘Catch Me If You Can’ Julian Savea

6th July 2017 By The Editor

Doug Howlett becomes the All Blacks record try scorer against Scotland in 2007.

Doug Howlett becomes the All Blacks record try scorer against Scotland in 2007. ©INPHO/PHOTOSPORT/Matt Impey

Almost ten years have passed since Munster and Auckland Blues legend, Doug Howlett, became the All Blacks record try scorer.  Still his record of 49 tries remains unbeaten, but with one contender hot on his heels, Howlett has laid down the challenge of ‘Catch Me If You Can’ to Julian Savea.

Beloved is these lands for his Heineken Cup and Magners League winning exploits with Munster, prior to his move north Howlett was already regarded as one of the all-time greats in his native New Zealand.

Honing his speed on the athletics track – winning national titles in 100m and 100m hurdles –  and immersed in rugby since his school days, Howlett combined searing pace and rugby nous in becoming one of the most celebrated back-three players ever to have worn the All Blacks jersey.  Making his Test debut against Tonga in 2000, before long it was evident that “Dougie” had to the ability to smash records.  A brace of tries against Wales at the 2003 Rugby World Cup saw him become just the fifth player to score 30 All Black tries alongside greats Christian Cullen, Jeff Wilson, Jonah Lomu and John Kirwan, while in 2005 he was the first New Zealander to score three tries in a Test against Australia.

The history books beckoned and at the 2007 Rugby World Cup, a sensational hat-trick against Italy brought him level with Cullen’s all-time record of 46 tries, and within a fortnight the record was firmly his own, bagging a brace as the All Blacks demolished Scotland 40-0 just two days after his 29th birthday (pictured above).

The following December, Munster fans enjoyed the best Christmas present imaginable when Howlett arrived to commence a six-year playing career in the province having finished a truly distinguished All Blacks career with an unequalled 49 tries in 62 Tests.

Now, there’s a new kid on the block.  Just three tries adrift, Julian Savea is a likely contender to end Doug’s near ten-year reign.

Always a hugely exciting prospect, the winger scored eight tries in helping New Zealand to the 2010 Junior World

©INPHO/Photosport/Andrew Cornaga

Championship, a tally he replicated in the senior competition five years later when New Zealand claimed their third World Cup title.

Nicknamed “The Bus”, coincidentally it was Ireland who felt the wrath of Savea’s attacking prowess on his intentional debut, crossing for a hat-trick in Auckland in June 2012, while his latest – and 46th – try came against Samoa last month.

Back on the wing for Saturday’s Series decider against the British and Irish Lions, the Hurricanes speedster needs four coveted tries to book his place in history. For that to happen this weekend is a tall order indeed, especially against a Lions side buoyed by last weekend’s win and with the carrot of a first Series win in New Zealand since 1971.

Yet, with three international hat-tricks racked up so far, it’s not beyond the bounds of belief for Savea to reach new heights and the record books this weekend.  And should he not, at just 26 years of age, time is very much on his side.

With that in mind, Howlett has teamed up with Keary’s Renault – official car supplier to Munster Rugby – in asking Savea to ‘Catch Me If You Can’….

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