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All Blacks captain Sam Cane ruled out of World Cup opener

By Finn Morton
Captain Sam Cane of New Zealand leads his team out for The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and South Africa Springboks at Mt Smart Stadium on July 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images)

The All Blacks have suffered a major blow ahead of their Rugby World Cup opener with skipper Sam Cane picking up an injury in Thursday’s captain’s run.


Veteran Brodie Retallick has been thrown back into the mix and will come off the bench in Friday night’s clash with France, and Tupou Vaa’i will start at blindside flanker.

Dalton Papali’i will also shift from one flank to the other, and will now run out up in the No. 7 jersey in Cane’s absence. Backrower Ardie Savea will also take up the captaincy for the Test.

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“It’s a privilege to play in the opening game of Rugby World Cup 2023,” coach Ian Foster said in a statement earlier this week.

“What makes it extra special is playing the host nation who are a very proud and in-form team.

“World Cups are different. The initial goal is to qualify for the quarterfinals and to do that we must build our game through the pool stage. That starts in game one where we have an opportunity to compete against one of the clear tournament favourites.”


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