Chiefs and All Blacks captain Sam Cane has come under fire in 2020 for his failure to stamp his mark in Super Rugby Aotearoa when other loose forwards have been standout performers.
The questions have circled over his early selection as All Black captain, with suggestions that Ian Foster would then have to work around the selection of Cane with the other in form flankers missing out. Lachlan Boshier, Hoskins Sotutu, Dalton Papalii, Cullen Grace, Tom Christie and Du’Plessis Kirifi have all put their hands up to be part of the All Blacks back row.
Against the Crusaders in Hamilton with the Chiefs desperate to end a seven game losing streak, Cane put in an enormous effort, making 24 of 27 tackles and winning three turnovers in a monster effort that showed how industrious his work rate can be.
The impressive performance was aided by the in form Lachlan Boshier at blindside, who added two more turnovers and completed 11 from 12 tackles.
The Chiefs back row dominated the Crusaders loose forwards in the turnover battle, with the trio of Sione Havili, Tom Christie and Tom Sanders failing to register a single turnover.
So many things to pick out of an awesome game, but this bit of defensive work from Sam Cane sums up 'reading the game' perfectly! I'm judging that he knew the play! #CHIvCRU pic.twitter.com/P4aoFlLD4G
— Geraint Davies (@daviesGDD) August 1, 2020
— Tom Vinicombe (@TomVinicombe) August 1, 2020
I'd love to see Sam Cane's tackle count. He has been busy shame
— Stay home, save lives (@Scuddy9nine) August 1, 2020
Sam Cane will make a great All Blacks captain.
— Edgar (@omolloed) August 1, 2020
Cane’s defensive performance was another impressive display against the Crusaders adding to his display in Christchurch earlier in the year which also impressed fans.
In last week’s encounter with the Blues, Cane appeared to injure his shoulder but would not let that get in the way. He made two tackles in a row before play stopped to get treatment. In the end, he finished with another 18 tackles and was labelled a ‘warrior’ for his efforts.
Still have 6 minutes to watch, but the two steals by Sam Cane inside the 22 up six just now are two of the best defensive plays I’ve ever seen. #CHIvCRU
— Rugby North America (@rugbyinamerica) June 2, 2019
Sam Cane is on ??
Audacious game of ruggas ? ??
— Brendon Shields (@Brendon_Shields) June 1, 2019
Sam Cane… absolute warrior #BLUvCHI
— Luke Robinson (@whakataneluke) July 26, 2020
Sam Cane is one tough hombre #BLUvCHI
— Christian Hansen (@cpHansen3) July 26, 2020
Although the Chiefs back row stepped up against the Crusaders, the side fell to their eighth straight loss on the back of a contentious refereeing decision with one point between the sides.
A loose pass bounced fortuitously for Sevu Reece in the lead up to his try, which appeared to be a knock-on. The decision put the Crusaders up by eight points with a quarter of the game to go.
Despite many fans still being unconvinced over Cane’s appointment as All Black captain, he does have the respect of his peers, winning the most votes in a player pool conducted by the Country Sports Breakfast radio show hosted by Sam Casey.
Sam Cane earned 24% of the votes as New Zealand’s most respected player, ahead of Brodie Retallick with 17%.
He will have one more chance to impress the doubters in the Chiefs last game against the Hurricanes, where they will try to avoid a clean sweep of losses against every New Zealand team twice.
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