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‘They can linger’: All Black Sam Cane opens up on ‘frustrating’ injury

By Finn Morton
Sam Cane of New Zealand salutes the supporters following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between New Zealand (All Blacks) and Italy at Groupama Stadium on September 29, 2023 in Lyon, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)

Less than an hour out from the All Blacks’ highly anticipated showdown with France in the World Cup opener last month, news broke that captain Sam Cane had been ruled out with a back injury.


Cane was left feeling “incredibly frustrated” as he watched on from the sidelines at Stade de France as Les Bleus handed the All Blacks their first-ever loss in a World Cup pool game.

Blindside flanker Shannon Frizell also missed the opener due to a niggly hamstring injury, which saw second-rower Tupou Vaa’i don the No. 6 jersey. The All Blacks were in the midst of an injury crisis.

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As the weeks continued to tick by at the sports showpiece event, there were some questions that remained unanswered about both Cane and Frizell. Fans wanted to see the star duo return.

Almost a month into the tournament, thousands of All Blacks fans got their wish as they watched Cane and Frizell enter the fray of World Cup rugby against Italy in Lyon.

Cane spoke with reporters the day after New Zealand’s stunning 96-17 win over the Azzurri, and opened up about the “frustrating” wait to return from the back injury.

“Incredibly frustrated. I’d been looking forward to that game for a long time,” Cane said on Saturday.


“Back troubles can kind of pop up out of nowhere sometimes and it can be quite frustrating. Sometimes they can come right quickly and other times they can linger and cause issues.

“Unfortunately for me, it was just lingering and as I would increase my training load it would flare up a little bit again. Never really badly but enough to be frustrating.”

Even the All Blacks were surprised by Friday night’s result. They needed to win, but the 79-point margin put the rugby world on notice ahead of a possible quarterfinal showdown with Ireland.

Wing Will Jordan scored the opening try of the night in just the fifth minute, and a hat-trick to halfback Aaron Smith inspired the New Zealanders to a commanding half-time lead.


By the time the full-time siren sounded at OL Stadium, the All Blacks had crossed for 14 tries against the Azzurri.

“There will absolutely be areas where we will pat ourselves on the back and we executed things well, but knowing our coaches, they will be looking through things with a fine-tooth comb and highlight things that we may have done or probably won’t get away with against better teams,” Cane said.

Points Flow Chart

New Zealand win +79
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Points Last 10 min

“I don’t really see this team right now getting ahead of ourselves based off one performance. It wasn’t very long ago we put in one against France that wasn’t quite good enough.

“I feel like we’re building nicely, we’re just excited that it’s only six days until we get another crack.”


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Turlough 6 hours ago
'Let them keep talking' - Mike Catt claps back over Bok remarks

“You want that – not hatred – but whatever it is that stirs it all up. It’s good.” Agree with this. If you can put a common motivating idea in all your players heads during a game it can produce a real Team perfromance. Erasmus is pretty expert at this. It is quite clear that the comments by Etzebeth, Allende and others were not coincidence and were actioned to create animoisty before the series in order to galvanise the South African mind set. While I understand it, I don’t like it. They result in unnessary vitriol between supporters and for what? I don’t think any of the SA players seriously believe any of these claims and with Ireland ignoring them Erasmus won’t get the escalation he seeks. The vitriol shown by some SA and indeed NZ supporters is extremely weird for NH supporters (OK, maybe England have felt it) but it just feels very odd over a sport. Ireland were more or less sh1t for the first 100 years of their rugby, they have improved significantly in the last 25 to be in a position around now (it may not last) to go into a match with the big guns with a real shot of winning. The reaction to this from some SH supporters has been bizarre with conspiracy theories of ‘Arrogance’ fueling abuse from supporters and even NZ players to Irish crowds during the world cup. I love International rugby and the comraderie between supporters. I genuinely dread and dislike the atmosphere around games with the southern giants. They take this very personally. NH teams: play them, try and beat them, enjoy the craic with their players and supporters and wish them well. SH teams wish them well and they call you arrogant in the press months later. Its just a matter of try and beat them and then good riddance til the next time.

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