Sam Cane opens up on desperation in All Blacks camp
SPOTLIGHT: New Zealand captain Sam Cane insists the All Blacks can cope with the pressure of facing South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday as the visitors seek to sidestep a fourth straight defeat this year.
The All Blacks are enduring some of their worst results in the professional era after losing five of their last six Test matches dating back to November.
Following defeats to Ireland and France on their European tour, New Zealand lost two of their three home Tests against the Irish in July and were beaten 10-26 away by world champions South Africa last weekend in Mbombela.
The horror run means there is a strong chance head coach Ian Foster could be replaced if the All Blacks suffer a fourth straight defeat this weekend.
Yet Cane says the All Blacks can cope with the high-pressure stakes despite the odds being against New Zealand to pull off an upset win at Ellis Park.
“You certainly feel the pressure – it’s impossible not to. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t,” Cane told reporters in Johannesburg.
“Pressure has always been part of being an All Black.
“Without a doubt, it’s extra pressure.
“You can look to see it as a burden or embrace it and see it as an extra challenge.”
Foster has reportedly been told by New Zealand Rugby bosses that he is expected to resign should the All Blacks lose again on Saturday.
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#ICYMI: With years of international experience behind him, nobody is more prepared for New Zealand’s redemption onslaught than Springbok star Duane Vermeulen. #RugbyChampionship #SouthAfrica #Springboks #NewZealand #AllBlacks #RSAvNZL https://t.co/yaGI7oaQG5
— rugby365.com (@rugby365com) August 10, 2022
‘Desperate to improve’
However, Cane insists the team are playing for more than just to safeguard their head coach’s future.
“I’m not seeing it that way at all.
“There’s a trophy on the line,” Cane added with his team out to defend the Freedom Cup – contested by the Springboks and All Blacks – which New Zealand has held since 2009.
“We’re playing at Ellis Park and we’re desperate to improve and put out better performances than we are.
“There’s as much on the line as there’s ever been.”
New Zealand’s attack struggled against the Springboks’ suffocating rush defence and South Africa’s domination at the breakdown.
Cane echoed Foster’s view expressed this week that the All Blacks only need to make a few adjustments in order to pull off an unlikely win at Ellis Park.
“We had a pretty sharp training run we’re starting to put a lot of those things right and make improvements,” said Cane.
“I don’t think we’re far off.”
New Zealand will name their team on Thursday.
The All Blacks are waiting on brothers Jordie, who has an ankle knock, and Beauden Barrett, who hurt his neck in a mid-air collision with Kurt-Lee Arendse, which saw the Springbok wing receive a late red card in Mbombela.
The Springboks have recalled influential loose forward Duane Vermeulen, who is back after a knee injury for their second match of The Rugby Championship.