All Blacks back-row Ardie Savea will become the first player to wear goggles at a Rugby World Cup as he battles vision problems.
A key player for Steve Hansen’s side, Savea was unstoppable in their opening round victory over South Africa. However, the loose forward is apparently fearful of going blind after the vision in his left eye became blurred and had been detiorating.
Against Canada tomorrow, Savea will wear goggles approved by World Rugby earlier this year to allow people who are visually impaired to play rugby.
“A couple of years ago I realised I had bad vision in my left eye. Everything’s kind of blurry,” he said.
“I told All Blacks doctor Tony Page that it was getting worse and now we’re doing something about it.
“Doc notified me that World Rugby had some goggles that were approved and everyone has been really supportive. In terms of vision and seeing, it’s pretty sweet, and it’s now just a matter of getting used to them.”
The goggles have been designed so that they are safe for both the player wearing them and those coming into contact.
According to Savea, it was an easy decision to make when he realised he could potentially go blind.
“Obviously if this right eye goes then I’m maybe, potentially blind,” Savea said.
“I’ve got my little girl and hopefully future kids and a bigger family, so I want to be able to see. I’m just thinking of the bigger picture and trying to protect my eyes.”
All Blacks assistant coach Ian Foster confirmed that the goggles were purely for protection and not as a visual aid.
When asked why the All Blacks had waited until the World Cup to trial them, Foster replied, “this is the right time.”
“When a player comes and says he felt his eye was getting worse… it’s a very natural time.”
However, All Blacks and Hurricanes teammate Beauden Barrett revealed he never knew Savea had vision problems but that it sort’ve makes sense.
“It sort of makes sense,” said Barrett
“I’ve never thought of it until this point but I remember trainings and games and seeing him blinking a bit more than usual.”