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Ex-All Black tables conspiracy theory over Sam Cane's retirement

By Ben Smith
New Zealand's Sam Cane (C) is congratulated by teammates Israel Dagg (R) and Keven Mealamu (L) after he scored a try during the Bledisloe Cup rugby union match between the New Zealand All Blacks and Australia at the Forsyth Bar Stadium in Dunedin on October 19, 2013. (Photo by MARTY MELVILLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Former All Black fullback Israel Dagg is at a loss to explain the international retirement of current captain Sam Cane, sharing his feeling that the decision was “forced” from above.


The 95-Test veteran announced he will retire from the international game after 2024 after taking a three-year deal with the Tokyo Sungoliath in the Japan Rugby League One. Cane has been on a sabbatical this year with the same club but has been out with injury for a large portion of the season.

His move spells the end of a 11-year Test career and continuation towards the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia with the All Blacks.

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But former teammate Dagg shared his view that the move looks a bit suspicious having known Cane for a long time, and he suspected that the decision was made from above.

“I’ve got a lot of time and respect for Sam Cane, played with him many times and I’ve never met a tougher bloke,” Dagg explained on SENZ Radio.

“A bloke that just fires into breakdowns, puts his body on the line week-in, week-out, and will go down as one of the greats for New Zealand.

“But there is something hanging over my shoulder here.

“I get a sense that this was forced. I get a sense that there was a shoulder tap from the one and only saying, ‘G’Day son, I think the writing is on the wall in terms of where you are seen in New Zealand rugby, Scott Barrett is going to take over the captaincy’.


“I think this was forced to be completely honest. They’ve been having conversations about it online, but the reality is he was shoulder tapped and told to make that next step and his next step is getting the Yen over in Japan.”

Sam Cane’s tenure as All Blacks captain under former head coach Ian Foster was always a talking point, with his selection in the team a hot topic with the public.

Many outsiders felt that the Chiefs’ No.7 was not the best openside, but those close to Cane always highlighted his leadership capabilities.

His decorated All Black career spanned three Rugby World Cups and included victory at the 2015 event.


He returned from injury to play in the semi-final off the bench in 2019 against England and finished that campaign with bronze.

In 2020 he took over as captain from departing skipper Kieran Read, leading the side through to the 2023 event where they finished runners-up.



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Andrew 69 days ago

Dagg really does go down some rabbit holes doesnt he? In the name I guess.

Scott 69 days ago

I am sure that Scott Robertson did do the courtesy of telling Sam Cane that he was not in his All Black plans and NZR would support him if he wished to sign a lucrative pension playing out his career in the cream puff rugby that is Japan’s Top League.

I fail to see this as a negative as Israel Dagg is trying to spin it. Razor allowed Cane to leave with dignity rather than being unceremoniously dumped as was Buck Shelford.

Lou Cifer 70 days ago

it’ll all be released in an autobiography a few years from now….. “Razor shafted me” blah blah blah. thinking of making Scott Barrett captain might be a good move. Could calm down his brain fades & make him an even better player for them

Bull Shark 70 days ago

Whether true or not, all the best to you Sam Cane. A warrior of a player and a loyal servant to the ABs! Go get you some yen and have some fun.

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