Rugby-Robertson to name new All Blacks skipper in June

  • Rugby
  • Tuesday, 14 May 2024

(Reuters) - Scott Robertson will not name the successor to Sam Cane as New Zealand captain until he announces his squad for the July tests against England and Fiji, the All Blacks coach told local media on Tuesday.

Flanker Cane's decision to return to Japanese club rugby at the end of the season and give up his eligibility to play for his country has ruled him out of retaining the job he has held since 2020.

Robertson, who replaced Ian Foster as coach after last year's World Cup, will name his first 32-man squad at the conclusion of the Super Rugby Pacific season in late June.

"There's been conversations and discussions that have been had with players. Yes, there has been. That's all I can say. It will be announced when we name the team," Robertson told reporters.

"(We need) someone the players will follow. Lead on the field. They have to start. They have to be world-class in their position and someone the players respect."

Lock Scott Barrett, who played under Robertson at the Canterbury Crusaders for seven highly successful years, and 2023 World Player of the Year Ardie Savea are the leading candidates to replace Cane.

Both have captained the team on a caretaker basis and fulfill Robertson's leadership criteria but loose forward Savea has not played Super Rugby this year after, like Cane, being allowed a sabbatical in Japan.

Robertson said openside Cane was unlikely to be available to play in the July tests because of a back injury but would be considered for the Rugby Championship in August and September.

"He's coming back from injury. He's got to perform to be involved in the All Blacks and he knows that," Robertson added.

"When you've played 95 tests ... you know what it takes. He's available and if he performs and it's up to me to pick him."

New Zealand host England in tests in Dunedin and Auckland in July before taking on Fiji in San Diego, California.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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