All Blacks legend Richie McCaw has backed Sam Whitelock to captain New Zealand this year in the absence of Sam Cane.
Regular New Zealand captain Cane was ruled out for four to six months after suffering a pectoral injury at the end of March, which will see him miss the All Blacks’ summer tests and potentially some of the Rugby Championship.
Former All Blacks captain McCaw was speaking to Stuff about who should lead the country in Cane’s absence, and the two-time World Cup winner believes Whitelock is the best option available to head coach Ian Foster.
An absolute legend, Sam Whitelock ?? pic.twitter.com/NeWqynvWby
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) November 7, 2020
“I don’t want to be saying too much, and there’s obviously a few candidates, but there’s no doubt … Sam Whitelock, who has done it before, has done a good job over the years,” McCaw said.
“There’s other guys as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s the man to do the job. I think he just leads by example and people want to follow him. He fronts up every week.”
Sam Whitelock’s credentials for the New Zealand captaincy.
Whitelock is one of the most experienced rugby players in the world, having played 121 times for his country, winning two World Cups and eight Tri Nations/Rugby Championship titles during a 11-year long international career.
The Crusaders lock has filled in as captain for New Zealand on numerous occasions in the absence of the regular skippers he has served under throughout his career.
The 32-year-old has been in fine form for the Crusaders so far this season, having helped them to the Super Rugby Aotearoa title, as well as two wins in the opening rounds of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.
While Cane is expected to be back from injury in time for New Zealand’s autumn internationals, someone will need to step up to the plate for their tests against Tonga and Fiji in July and potentially the opening rounds of the Rugby Championship.
New Zealand had a poor 2020 by their lofty standards – winning three, drawing one and losing two of their six matches last year – including a first-ever loss to Argentina.