'As we've found out, things change very quickly'
WATCH as new All Blacks captain Sam Cane shares his thoughts on lockdown, the team’s famous regeneration and the pressures and privileges of keeping the squad on top.
Cane’s start to Super Rugby Aotearoa has been delayed for a second-successive week – elevating the nagging concerns about his lower back injury.
When it was announced last week – ahead of the Chiefs’ 27-28 loss to the Highlanders in Dunedin – Cane allayed fears it was somehow related to the broken neck he suffered while playing against the Springboks in Pretoria in October 2018.
However, he has again been forced to make himself unavailable – as the Chiefs prepare to face the Blues in Hamilton on Saturday.
They are uncertain if it is a disc issue that he needs to see someone about, or whether he needs an injection.
Despite the latest setbacks, he remains upbeat.
“I didn’t realise how much I’d miss the competitiveness of training and being with a group of competitive guys,” said about New Zealand coming out of lockdown.
“You can’t beat that face to face interaction.
“What surprised me was how many friends, and the friendships that you have within your team, and how much you miss the small chats before training when you’re all lying around stretching, preparing for training; the chats in between the sets at the gym, and just a lot of the banter that goes with being in a sports team.
“Every week, we’d set up a Zoom with the team, and just jump on there, and have a little bit of a chat, see how everyone’s going; different training regimes, and that was nice, to be able to connect like that. But you can’t beat that face to face interaction.”
He also spoke about being named All Black captain and what the legacy of the team means to him.
“When rugby first started out and the All Blacks team was assembled, they were a very successful team and when you come in, there’s this sense of responsibility and legacy to try and uphold.
“Pulling on a jersey and thinking this isn’t mine, I’m just taking care of it for the next 80 minutes is a pretty powerful thing.
“Successful regeneration is obviously not an easy thing to do, and over years, teams change, and often big chunks of the team move on. But that’s… that’s the challenge of upholding a strong history and record, is that it’s not seen to be acceptable to have those regeneration years, or rebuilding type of years.
“When you put on the All Black jersey, you’re playing for something bigger than yourself, bigger than your current team; you’re playing for everyone who’s gone and played beforehand, and to be honest, it feels like you’re playing for the majority of the country too.
“Serving under great All Blacks, the likes of Kieran Read and Richie McCaw, two of the All Blacks great, if not greatest leaders we’ve had for a long time. I learned so much off both those men; they both have a really rich and strong understanding of the All Black history, of what it means to be an All Black, and who you’re representing, and I think when you’ve got leaders like that, and they both had outstanding men around them as well, that can help influence the whole side.
“All Blacks like Dan Carter, Conrad Smith, Keven Mealamu, Ma’a Nonu; a lot of those guys have taught me so much as well… not so much rugby, but about the understanding and the privilege and honour to be an All Black.”
He said having been named captain, he really excited to get stuck in.
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“It is certainly strange not knowing when that will be, but we have to be adaptable as things change really quickly, and so when they change, turn in our favour… make sure we’re ready.
“That feeling of walking off the park knowing you’ve left it all out there and as a team, we won, and played to our potential; that’s one of the ultimate feelings.
“I feel like it’s a real honour and a privilege to be put in this position. I feel really excited about getting together and stepping into that new role, and doing my best to bring the team together the best way we can.”
Source: ByDesign Communications