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'He responded to the criticism': Sir John Kirwan on Sam Cane's latest performance

By Ben Smith
Ardie Savea and Sam Cane of the All Blacks celebrate after winning The Rugby Championship match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Argentina Pumas at FMG Stadium Waikato on September 03, 2022 in Hamilton, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Former All Black wing John Kirwan has praised captain Sam Cane for one of his best performances in a ‘long, long time’ as the All Blacks defeated Argentina 53-3 in Hamilton to keep their Rugby Championship alive.

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Earlier this week there were calls from Kirwan for key All Blacks to be rested, in particular Cane himself in order to give Blues No 7 Dalton Papalii a start.

After a captain’s knock at FMG Stadium, the former Blues coach praised the captain’s effort in a full 80-minute performance by the All Blacks in the post-match show.

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“I think Sam Cane was one of the better players out there and he was under probably the most pressure,” Kirwan told the panel on Sky Sport NZ post-match.

“What they did was get off their line early, created errors from the opposition and then really capitalise on those errors.

“I thought he [Cane] was outstanding, I thought he responded to the criticism.”

Kirwan highlighted the defensive work that Cane was able to bring early in the test to pound the Pumas ball carriers backwards before showing the other areas of his game.

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The captain had a hand in a stunning try to Jordie Barrett, punching through the line to provide the last pass to finish off a 90-metre movement from under their own goal posts.

“He started early by just bashing people, doing the simple stuff and really hurting people. Then he started to carry well and support well.

“It was one of the best performances I’ve seen from him for a long, long time.

“I think what we all want now from the All Blacks is consistency in the next game.

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“And the players if they need to be rested, Whitelock, Cane, because they have a lot of K’s on the clock, we need to do that as well otherwise we’ll break them.”

Sam Cane was equally satisfied with the team’s performance after the disappointing 25-18 loss in Christchurch last week.

He was most pleased with the defensive performance which kept the Pumas to a solitary penalty goal.

“Obviously massively important [win], we were under a bit of pressure and we weren’t happy with what we dished up last week,” he told Sky Sport NZ after the game.

“Although we felt like we were in the game, this week we were in the game right from the start and turn that into points. It was a pretty enjoyable night.

“I thought our defence was outstanding, we were able to force them into a heck of a lot of errors. On top of that, our discipline was very good.

“Also pleased we kept it on for the full 80. It was a pretty complete performance tonight.

The All Black captain said that the impressive length of the field try was an example of the mindset that they have tried to preserve during this stretch of challenging tests.

“That’s our attacking mindset, we had an advantage at the other end off the scrum so we threw it, had a crack and scored 90-metres later.

“We’re really stoked to be able to put out a proud performance at home which we’ve not really done this year.”

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