• Cane: I can deal with captaincy pressure

    Sam Cane has opened up about the responsibility that comes with wearing the All Blacks jersey and captaining his nation.

    Cane was last month confirmed as the All Blacks’ new captain, taking over from Kieran Read, who announced his retirement from Test rugby after the 2019 World Cup.

    The 28-year-old Cane already led the All Blacks on three occasions, becoming the fifth-youngest captain when he wore the armband in the 2015 World Cup against Namibia at the age of 23.

    Speaking with adidas, Cane talked about the All Blacks’ legacy and the responsibility of leading a new generation of players who will be expected to uphold the team’s strong culture and on-field record.

    ‘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,’ Cane said. 

    ‘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 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 Blacks 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 Blacks 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.

    ‘I don’t feel any pressure. I feel like it’s a real honour and a privilege to be put in this position, but 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.

    ‘There’s no doubt there’ll be more pressure probably than I’m used to as an All Black, but I feel that I’m at the stage in my career where I’m able to deal with that. I’ve got strategies, and I know that at the end of the day, it’s just about going out there and playing good rugby; so, I won’t try and complicate it too much.’

    Photo: Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images

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    Dylan Jack