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All Blacks confirm likely return date for captain Sam Cane

By Tom Vinicombe
Sam Cane of the All Blacks leads the haka during the Bledisloe Cup match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on October 18, 2020 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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All Blacks captain Sam Cane was one of a number of senior players to find themselves sidelined by injury during the highly attritional Super Rugby Aotearoa season.

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Fellow openside flanker Ardie Savea also spent ample time off the park and will make his return for the All Blacks this weekend after sitting out the last two tests while midfielder Jack Goodhue is unlikely to feature again this year.

Cane’s prognosis lies somewhere between the two after suffering a pectoral injury against the Blues earlier this year.

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Ardie Savea will make his return for the All Blacks this weekend.

At the time, at the beginning of April, Cane was expected to be out for four to six months. Speaking on Thursday, All Blacks coach Ian Foster confirmed that Cane will likely return to action near the latter part of that timeline.

“What I do know is he’s tracking really, really well,” Foster said. “I think at the time we put a 6-month type [timeframe on his recovery], towards the end of September. That’s still looking on track but what that means in terms of his return for us, we’re not really going to know until closer to that time.

“At the moment, I can’t see him being around for The Rugby Championship. If he is available at the end there’s probably a chance we’ll put him into NPC for a game or two but it’s round about that sort of mid-to-late-September period.”

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Savea will wear the No 7 jersey this weekend, despite spending much of the last 18 months playing at number 8.

With Savea unavailable for the past two games against Tonga and Fiji, Dalton Papalii and Ethan Blackadder have both been given opportunities to play on the openside flank.

While Papalii and his fellow forward thoroughly outclassed the ‘Ikale Tahi in Auckland two weeks ago, Blackadder – normally a blindside flanker – struggled to gain any ascendancy against Fiji.

Although Foster admitted the selectors had considered slotting Savea in at the back of the scrum, Papalii’s absence due to a calf niggle has effectively forced their hand – especially given Cane’s ongoing absence.

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“We looked at all those options but at the moment, when we say Sam’s going to be back, Sam could be out for still a significant amount of test matches,” said Foster. “So we’ve got to prepare for the here and now and we’ve said Ardie’s clearly an 8 for us but he’s also a 7 so this is a chance to get him back into the 7 role and get his instincts back into that space.”

After this weekend’s rematch with Fiji, the All Blacks break for a few weeks before reassembling to take on Australia on August 7.

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All Blacks confirm likely return date for captain Sam Cane

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