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All Black backs Ardie Savea to succeed Sam Cane as New Zealand captain

By Finn Morton
Ardie Savea of New Zealand celebrates victory at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Flanker Dalton Papali’i has endorsed reigning World Rugby Player of the Year Ardie Savea to take over the All Blacks captaincy following Sam Cane’s shock retirement announcement on Monday.


New Zealand’s incumbent skipper Cane, who led the team to the final of last year’s Rugby World Cup in France, will step away from international duty at the end of the 2024 Test season.

Cane, 32, has played 95 Test matches and has a chance of becoming the All Blacks’ 13th centurion before heading to Japan after signing a three-year deal with Tokyo Sungoliath from next season.

The Rugby World Cup winner will still be eligible to don the black jersey this year as he’s on sabbatical with the Tokyo-based club at the moment, but that will change next year.

While coach Scott Robertson has remained tight-lipped on who the new skipper will be, Blues and All Blacks flanker Dalton Papali’i has backed Ardie Savea to step into the role.

“I don’t really have a say but last year when Sam Cane was injured, Ardie stood up in that position and he probably might be the next captain,” Papali’i said on Tuesday.

Cane’s impending departure also opens the door for a new man to follow in the footsteps of All Blacks giants by making the No. 7 jersey their own throughout the new World Cup cycle.


As well as Michael ‘Iceman’ Jones, two-time World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw achievement unprecedented feats in that jersey and Cane was a worthy successor.

In the years to come, Papali’i appears to be in a prime position to become the All Blacks’ first-choice openside flanker after already amassing 32 Test appearances so far in his Test career.


Hurricanes duo Peter Lakai and Du’Plessis Kirifi are other worthy contenders to enter the fray of Test rugby as openside flankers, but Papali’i would have to be considered the frontrunner.

“They were both leaders,” Papali’i explained of both McCaw and Cane. “They were both All Black captains, so those are pretty big boots to fill, to be honest.


“But the good thing that we talk about is you don’t own the jersey, you just fill it with your legacy.

“I’m not going to try and be like Richie McCaw or be like Sam Cane, I want to fill it with my own flavour and my own personality.

“It’s going to be interesting,” he added.

“I’m still focusing on the Blues here, so I haven’t really thought of that at the moment, but with Sam Cane – getting to play with him and seeing the character he is and the man he is – it was a bloody privilege to be in a team with him and be captained by him.”


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Troy 58 days ago

Let’s make them both Capt. I think we'd get the best of both of them and it would help alleviate some of the pressures of the role. They'd have to confer over on field decisions which should lead to “ learnings “ for both. They are our two best consistent performers.

Flatcoat 58 days ago

Our best player by far..but not a good Captain..poor tactician cost the AB'S and Canes games by not taking the easy points and going for tries when the lineouts were a shambles..can he read a game? And his throat slitting gesture should disqualify him from the AB is not the appropriate behaviour of an AB Captain.

Pete 59 days ago

Not sure why Papali’i thinks Scott Robertson needs his help to select the next All Black Captain.
In my view, Papali’i would be well advised to have a good hard look at his own game, and to reflect on how fortunate he is to even wear the black jersey. Rather than shouting at his team mates at every set piece, standing in the mid-field pointing and holding his arms out and flopping to the ground at the back of every second or third ruck, may I suggest he would be far better employed actually doing something on the field.
Seriously, watch him for 10 minutes during a game - not much happens. When was the last time he was first to a breakdown, or actually made a turnover?
If Robertson is half the Coach I think he is, Papali’i will not be anywhere near the AB’s this season.

Jasyn 60 days ago

No thanks. Savea almost always leaves easy points out there and goes for the corner, no matter how many times it’s not working.

He claimed he took “the learnings” from this when he kept making the same mistake against the Boks a few years ago. Then went out the very next week and did the same thing and SA snatched victory because of it. Years later he still does it, right up to and including the world cup final.

Great player, not so great rugby nous.

Scott 60 days ago

Dalton Papalii will be lucky to be selected on the Matchday 23.

Ardie Savea, Ethan Blackadder, Luke Jacobson, and Peter Lauki are all as good or better openside flankers

Scott 60 days ago

Scott Barrett is a lock and they have a much longer shelf life than a loose forward.

Far more likely that Barrett will still demand a starting position based on performance at age 33 at RWC 2027 than Savea, whose explosive athleticism will have declined and he will in all likelihood have been surpassed by Hoskins Sotutu, Wallace Siti, Peter Lauki and Brayden Iose.

Nickers 61 days ago

Coin flip between Ardie and Scott Barrett. Both have their pros and cons, and both would probably be decent. Ardie has way more passion on the field, but that hasn’t always translated into the best decisions. They will both turn 34 at the next World Cup, so both will most likely have their best days a few years behind them. It’s hard to imagine now, but looking at young players coming through Ardie will probably be under the most pressure to retain his place in the team.

Beauden Barrett also an outside chance if Razor sees him as the first choice 10.

MattJH 61 days ago

I think they’ll choose Scott Barret as captain, Ardie 7, Hoskins 8, Finau at 6.

swivel 61 days ago

Daltons a great guy and can lead at any level with that humility

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