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Opinion: He should have been the next Jonah Lomu, instead Julian Savea's shortened All Blacks career will leave fans wondering what could have been

If the news about Julian Savea signing for Toulon is true, then the former All Blacks winger will leave our shores with a legacy of fans questioning what he could have been.

The winger will face the All Blacks after he was an omission from their end of year tour squad. Source: 1 NEWS

With a whopping 46 tries in 54 Tests, Savea - along with Christian Cullen and Joe Rokocoko - is second to only Doug Howlett (49 in 62) on the All Blacks' all-time most prolific scorers list.

On his day, Savea was the closest thing to Jonah Lomu world rugby had seen since the great man himself, managing to combine both pace and power perfectly, single handedly taking defences apart to score try after try in the black jersey.

However, thanks to a perceived lack of fitness, and the outstanding form of Rieko Ioane over the last 12 months, not to mention the likes of Nehe Milner-Skudder and Waisake Naholo waiting in the wings (no pun intended), there doesn't seem to be any situation where Savea forces his way back into Steve Hansen's first-choice XV.

Smith said a couple of team members have seen Savea's destruction in the Mitre 10 Cup and they know 'the Bus is coming'. Source: 1 NEWS

At times he was completely unplayable, memorably brushing France aside in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final with a hat-trick as the All Blacks banished their Gallic demons from 2007 in Cardiff.

Yet as of late, things seem to have changed, with Savea now battling to even get into the Hurricanes' starting side.

By no means is he no longer a good player, but the way the All Blacks and New Zealand rugby are trending now means that there isn't any room for passengers, and that's exactly what Savea has become.

Just scoring tries won't get you into this current All Blacks side as a winger, you need to be able to offer just as much in defence as you do with ball in hand - something Savea has never been great at.

Rieko Ioane in particular shows that you have to be prepared to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in, both on and off the ball, which Savea seemingly isn't willing to do.

The Hurricanes winger is taking part in the Islamic observance to support his wife. Source: 1 NEWS

The shelf-life of power wingers in rugby these days is seemingly short, with the likes of Sir John Kirwan, Rokocoko and Sitiveni Sivivatu all seeming to come to a sudden end, and it looks like the same thing has happened to Savea.

The real shame is that if Savea had kept his place in the All Blacks side heading into next year's World Cup, his appetite for tries, not to mention the rate at which he gets them, would have comfortably seen him top New Zealand and possibly the game's all time scorers list.

Simply put, the greatest disappointment with Savea's All Blacks career isn't what he did, but what he failed to do - with his potential suggesting his time in the black jersey shouldn't be over five years after his debut.

He'll now most likely head off to France, playing for one of, if not the biggest club in rugby, where he'll make a great living for his family.

The question remains though, just how good could he have been?