Richie McCaw delivers verdict on who should fill in for Sam Cane as All Blacks captain
Cane was ruled out of action for between four-to-six months due to pectoral injury sustained in March, which means he won’t be free to play again until some time between the end of July and end of September.
It also means the 29-year-old flanker will be unavailable for New Zealand’s July test series against Tonga and Fiji, leaving head coach Ian Foster to survey his options as to who should fill the leadership void.
McCaw, considered by many as the greatest player of all-time who captained the All Blacks in 110 tests and led New Zealand to back-to-back World Cup titles, has since weighed in on the situation.
The 40-year-old has called for Whitelock, who he played alongside for the All Blacks and Crusaders between 2010 and 2015, to take over from Cane on an interim basis.
“I don’t want to be saying too much, and there’s obviously a few candidates, but there’s no doubt … Sam Whitelock, who has done it before, has done a good job over the years,” McCaw told Stuff.
Whitelock, a 122-test veteran who has captained the All Blacks six times, is viewed by many as the frontrunner to fill in for Cane.
At Super Rugby level, he led the Crusaders to three straight titles between 2017 and 2019, and is the only current All Black who has more than 100 tests and has played international rugby for at least a decade.
According to McCaw, that experience could be invaluable as he believes it has helped earn Whitelock the respect of his peers.
“There’s other guys as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the man to do the job. I think he just leads by example and people want to follow him. He fronts up every week.”
Whitelock was considered a leading candidate to assume the All Blacks captaincy from Kieran Read on a full-time basis after the 2019 World Cup, but the job was instead handed to Cane.
The All Blacks are will kick-off their 2021 schedule against Tonga at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland on July 3 before going to face Fiji at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin on July 10 and then at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton on July 17.
Foster’s side will then begin their Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship campaigns the following month, by which time Cane may be available for selection.
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