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Ardie Savea reacts to ‘the man’ Scott Barrett being named All Blacks captain

By Finn Morton
Captain Scott Barrett (C) along with vice captains Ardie Savea (L) and Jordie Barrett (R) look on during the New Zealand All Blacks 2024 season launch at NZCIS on June 26, 2024 in Upper Hutt, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

All Blacks backrower Ardie Savea has described Scott Barrett as “the man” after it was revealed on Monday that the man known as ‘Scooter’ would captain the All Blacks under new coach Scott Robertson.

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Last month, long-serving skipper Sam Cane announced that this year would be the World Cup winner’s last in an All Blacks jersey. Cane has signed a three-year deal with Suntory Sungoliath in Japan which makes him ineligible for the national team.

Cane, who has played 95 Test matches for New Zealand, said he’d “had my time as captain” before offering to support the new team leader if selected by coach ‘Razor’ Robertson in what will be a swansong international season.

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That decision reignited a debate within New Zealand rugby circles about who should take over from Cane. Dalton Papali’i and TJ Perenara were two players who publicly backed Ardie Savea to captain the All Blacks full-time.

Savea, 30, has led the All Blacks on multiple occasions, including last year’s first Bledisloe Cup Test in Melbourne and a couple of matches at the Rugby World Cup in France while Cane was injured.

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But coach Robertson has decided to go in a different direction by appointing Scott Barrett as New Zealand’s next skipper. After arriving in All Blacks camp, Savea wasn’t bitter and instead congratulated Barrett on the appointment.

“My heart is whatever is best for the team. I’ll lead in my own areas and it’s a massive congrats to Scooter [Scott Barrett],” Savea said.

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“He’s the man and me and Jordie will be right beside him in anything we can to make this team better and win games.

“I’ll lead wherever the team needs me to lead and I can’t wait to get stuck into it and try and win the series,” he added.

“All the noise was outside noise. It’s always a privilege [to captain New Zealand] but it’s also a privilege to be an All Black.

Barrett has long been touted as one of the favourites to succeed Cane as captain so this decision hasn’t come as a complete surprise. The Crusaders lock won seven Super Rugby titles with Razor, including some as captain.

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Savea has still been handed a leadership role as part of the All Blacks’ new era, with the reigning World Cup Player of the Year named as one of two vice-captains. Scott Barrett’s younger brother, Jordie, is the other VC.

It’s an exciting time for the All Blacks with a number of players in line to potentially pull on the coveted jersey for the first time. George Bell, Wallace Sititi, Pasilio Tosi, Cortez Ratima and Billy Proctor are the five uncapped players in the group.

It’s the start of a new Rugby World Cup cycle. The Super Rugby Pacific season is in the books, so now the best of the best from the five Kiwi franchises will band together ahead of two Tests against England and a trip to San Diego to play Fiji.

“The boys have just come off [a Super Rugby campaign] so the goal is to make sure we come together as one,” Savea explained.

“We’re five franchises, now we’re coming together as one team – the All Blacks.

“That’s the standard we demand. You come in quickly, switch on and make sure we learn and grow so this team can push forward for next week.”

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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1 Comment
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Jon 22 days ago

Savea…Class!

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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