Skip to content

Julian Savea leaves Toulon in search of new contract after French season cancelled

Savea wants to "get my body and my mind ready to go for whatever's next, whether that's in New Zealand or somewhere else overseas"

Julian Savea

Julian Savea has become the second All Blacks winger to leave French club Toulon this week and return to New Zealand to try to continue his professional rugby career.

Savea's former Hurricanes and All Blacks team-mate Nehe Milner-Skudder confirmed on Wednesday that injury had forced him to cut short his contract with Toulon and sign with the Highlanders.

The moves come after French officials said last month they would cancel the remainder of the 2019/20 season because of the COVID-19 crisis.

"Obviously the season's done and I'm coming home soon hopefully, once everything dies down," Savea said in a video on his Instagram account on Thursday.

"I guess trying to get back into New Zealand rugby maybe or find another contract, that's a five-month, six-month timeline in terms of what can happen because of COVID-19 still going."

TJ Perenara, Cory Jane and Julian Savea of the Hurricanes celebrate in the changing room after the Hurricanes won the 2016 Super Rugby Final match between the Hurricanes and the Lions at Westpac Stadium on August 6, 2016 in Wellington, New Zealand.
Image: TJ Perenara, Cory Jane and Savea celebrate after the Hurricanes beat the Lions in the 2016 Super Rugby final

The 29-year-old said he would ideally like to re-sign with the Hurricanes, but would also contemplate a move to Japan or even consider a switch to rugby league in the NRL.

After helping the All Blacks to the 2015 Rugby World Cup title, Savea signed a lucrative long-term deal with New Zealand Rugby but his form fell off dramatically and he was granted an early release in 2018 to join Toulon on a two-year contract.

Also See:

Julian Savea of the All Blacks kisses the Webb Ellis Cup as Richie McCaw looks on following the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final match between New Zealand and Australia at Twickenham Stadium on October 31, 2015 in London, United Kingdom.
Image: Savea won the World Cup with New Zealand in 2015

The winger, however, failed to make the impact expected of him, with club owner Mourad Boudjellal launching a furious tirade about his performances last year.

"I'm going to ask for a DNA test. They must have swapped him on the plane. If I were him I would apologise and go back to my home country," Mourad Boudjellal told French radio RMC in February, 2019.

"I've told him that he was free to go and wasn't welcome at Toulon anymore."

Julian Savea has a year left on his Toulon contract
Image: Savea has had a troubled spell with Toulon since joining in 2018

Savea vowed to see out his contract at the Top 14 club, but said the cancellation of the season had been a catalyst for his desire to return home.

"It's been a bit tough but with COVID-19, clubs are not signing anyone and don't really have that money to offer people so that made my decision easy," he said.

"For me it's better off being in New Zealand, close to family, and I get to train back with the boys and just get my body and my mind ready to go for whatever's next, whether that's in New Zealand or somewhere else overseas.

"First and foremost I just want to get home."

Around Sky