Kiwi stars backing under-fire All Blacks captain
INTERVIEW: All Blacks captain Sam Cane has received a glowing endorsement from his Super Rugby peers.
The 28-year-old was named the new Captain of the All Blacks in May, succeeding Kieran Read who retired from the All Blacks after Rugby World Cup 2019.
A natural leader, 28-year-old Chiefs captain Cane has played 68 Tests, including 48 starts, since making his debut against Ireland in 2012, aged just 20.
However, with the Chief’s current form which is a club record eight consecutive defeats, New Zealand pundits and fans have questioned his appointment.
The Blues hooker James Parsons and Crusaders scrumhalf Bryn Hall has backed the All Blacks captain in his new and explained what fans aren’t able to see from the Chiefs flank.
“I suppose for me, he’s hugely respected,” Blues hooker James Parsons said on the Aotearoa Rugby Pod.
“It probably takes for you to get hit by him, to know how good he is.
“He is one of the hardest hitters out there, but I think one of the reasons he’s so respected is he’s such a team-first man.
“He’s not looking for the highlight packages or anything, it is all about what is going to be best for his team going forward. He will always put himself in those positions”
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Aside from being able to bring dominant hits to a defence, which Bryn Hall described as being a confidence lifter for the side, it’s the commitments to the greater cause that make him an excellent leader.
“An example against us [the Blues], he made one tackle on Gerard Cowley and got a stinger and was down for about 2 minutes, and then play came back his way and he stood up and made another tackle with the exact same shoulder,” Parsons recalled.
“It’s those sorts of efforts that are always going to be appreciated by players so much more than highlight plays.
“Because you know when someone is hurt, they are going to turn up for you and have your inside and back you up. That’s someone you want to follow.”
Parsons explained that the pressure being heaped on Cane as All Blacks captain is nothing different, with previous captains going through it at various points in their tenures.
“It comes with the job. Richie McCaw had it going into the 2015 World Cup, Kieran Read had it a number of times.
“It probably doesn’t help [the captaincy] coinciding with the Chiefs not going so well. But there is no doubt in the All Blacks’ selectors minds that he is the best man for the job.
“I’d back that fully as well. He’s a great player, but a great man as well and those are the people you want to play alongside.”
Bryn Hall echoed Parsons sentiment stating that he had no issues with Cane being selected as All Black captain.
“For me, there are no qualms about it, he is a great player and well-respected, he’ll continue to get better when he gets in the All Blacks camp and later this year,” Hall said.
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Cane’s Super Rugby Aotearoa stats show that he has made the third-most tackles in the competition, behind fellow open sides Dalton Papalii and Dillon Hunt, despite sitting out the opening two rounds.
He is making dominant tackles at a solid rate of 19 percent, but that sits below other loose forwards Ardie Savea (31), Mitch Brown (28), Papalii (25), Du’Plessis Kirifi (25), and Tom Christie (25).
Although, Cane did produce a monster game against the Crusaders over the weekend, making a game-high 24 tackles while winning three turnovers himself.
Parsons explained what having an enforcer like Cane dishing out dominant hits does for your defence.
“Defence is all about getting the ball back,” he said.
“Teams don’t want to overplay these days, so if you get a dominant hit early in the defensive set, more than likely you are going to get the ball back via kick or a turnover at the breakdown.
“Although he might not get the plaudits for that turnover, he’s created that opportunity for a Lachlan Boshier or a Mitch Karpik or whoever else, to get over the ball and get the ball back.
“That’s what you need in a game of rugby. So many times, time and time again, he’ll be the guy that’s made the tackle that allows those turnover opportunities.”