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Scott Robertson remains coy on next All Blacks captain

By Ben Smith
Sam Cane and Scott Barrett of New Zealand acknowledge the crowd after the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

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.

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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.

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“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.

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One of the favourites to take over the job is Crusaders lock Scott Barrett who Robertson entrusted with the captaincy duties in 2023 for the Crusaders.

Barrett is a guaranteed starter when healthy now that veteran pair Sam Whitelock and Brodie Retallick have moved on. At 30 years old, he is expected to make it through to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

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.”

 

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Red and White Dynamight 4 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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