Scott Robertson remains coy on next All Blacks captain
Incoming All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson is excited to write the next chapter of the ‘legacy’ as he prepares to take over from departing coach Ian Foster but hasn’t decided who will captain the side yet.
Robertson has installed a new coaching and backroom staff, with only forwards coach Jason Ryan and strength and conditioning coach Nic Gill remaining from Foster’s group.
One hallmark of Foster’s tenure was the captaincy of Sam Cane which remains an uncertainty heading into the Robertson era. The Chiefs openside took over the captaincy from former No 8 Kieran Read in 2020.
Despite being contracted with NZR until the end of 2025, the 31-year-old is taking a playing sabbatical with Tokyo Sungoliath in the Japan Rugby League One, meaning he will not be playing in Super Rugby in New Zealand in 2024.
Robertson remained coy on the matter in a wide-ranging interview with Stuff.co.nz, advising he wants to allow for ‘breathing room’ following the Rugby World Cup final.
“I am trying to give a little bit of a runway post-World Cup before I start having conversations around captains,” Robertson told Stuff.
“I think it is important – around respect. I have talked to all the senior All Blacks, I have spent around an hour, or two, chatting around what they learned from the World Cup.
“I am starting to build an understanding, and what they think is really important is what they want to protect.
“But what do we need to evolve, on and off the field? They have had time to reflect, and they have been honest, which has been great.”
Cane is not the only captaincy candidate who will miss the Super Rugby Pacific campaign, with newly-crowned World Player of the Year and vice-captain Ardie Savea also taking a sabbatical with the Kolbeco Kobe Steelers.
Both will return to New Zealand in time for the All Blacks two Tests with England, Robertson’s first challenge as All Blacks head coach.
News that Scott’s brother Beauden may be available should he ink a new deal with NZR was received positively by Robertson but there were no guarantees.
His form in the Japan league would matter when considering his Test selection in 2024.
“Look, the guys who have played in Japan have come back and played good rugby. He’s hugely experienced, and it doesn’t matter where you are, you have to play well,” Robertson said.
“That’s what All Blacks do. That was the message to him. Play well, we will watch you from afar, we will give you feedback and keep connected.”