Flanker Sam Cane has been named the All Blacks captain, succeeding Kieran Read who retired from test rugby after last year’s World Cup.
New coach Ian Foster made the announcement on Tuesday, even though there is no indication when the All Blacks will play with rugby shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The 28-year-old Cane has been a regular in the New Zealand No. 7 jersey since the retirement of Richie McCaw in 2015, appearing in more than 60 tests. His appointment as captain ahead of strong candidates such as lock Sam Whitelock is a surprise as he continues to face competition for his place in the New Zealand team.
Congrats to Sam Cane. But seems strange to name an All Blacks captain now when there are no tests on the horizon. NZ Rugby must be desperate for a positive story.
Was in New Zealand for the 2012 Ireland tour when Sam Cane made his All Blacks debut
He was phenomenal in Hamilton in the final Test. Always looked like a captain in waiting. A fine appointment pic.twitter.com/betTo0mP7e
Really looking forward to Sam Cane’s tenure as @AllBlacks captain.
Articulate, intelligent, and a great analyst of the game.
And it goes without saying, a bloody good player too.
New Zealand has produced some great No. 7s, among them McCaw and Michael Jones, and has routinely had a No. 7 as captain, but Cane is not of that quality yet, and is a quiet and unassuming player. While he has captained the All Blacks three times and the Chiefs Super Rugby team more regularly, his leadership skills are still relatively immature.
He was the fifth youngest All Blacks captain when, at 23, he led New Zealand against Namibia in 2015. He has also led the team against Italy and Argentina.
“As I’ve spent more time in the All Blacks and grown as a player, I’ve become a lot more comfortable being a leader in the team,” Cane said.
“The great thing about the All Blacks is that the leadership group is full of captains and experienced players already so I’m just really looking forward to working closely with that group and doing my best to lead them and the rest of the squad.”
Sam Cane in Perth last year.Source:Getty Images
Foster said the All Blacks captaincy was one of the most important jobs in New Zealand sport and Cane was ready for the responsibility.
“Sam is an experienced All Black with eight years in the team now and is a ‘follow me’ type of leader and a very good thinker in the game,” he said.
“He has a natural ability to connect with everyone in the team and is straight forward and direct when he needs to be.
“There’s massive respect for Sam amongst the players and management.”
Cane made a remarkable recovery last year from a broken neck to resume his test career. He has played since without any obvious impediment, as a hardworking but unspectacular loose forward.
“My style as captain will be to not really change the way I do things,” Cane said.
“I’m just myself and will continue to be.
“I already work on building relationships, especially with the younger guys in the squad, and everyone else connected with the team.”
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