Stuart Barnes has called on the All Blacks to drop Sam Cane, arguing that the New Zealand captain is not good enough to play for his national team.
Cane was chosen to succeed Kieran Read as the All Blacks’ captain in 2020, although injuries have limited his involvement since then, with Ardie Savea and Sam Whitelock skippering New Zealand on a number of occasions last year.
Savea started for New Zealand in the first test against Ireland, albeit at number eight rather than as an open side flanker, while Cane once again captained his country.
Former England international Stuart Barnes was writing in his column for The Times and called for the All Blacks to leave Cane out of their starting team despite the 30-year-old’s leadership abilities.
Stuart Barnes on Sam Cane.
“Sam Cane may be a fine leader of rugby players, but he is not good enough to play for the All Blacks,” Barnes wrote.
“Yes, Cane works hard. He makes his share of tackles but none of them are destructive. They are the sort of tackles that, frankly, any professional openside should make.
“Savea, when he makes them, hits harder. He shifts the gainline. He also has a fabulous pair of hands. His acceleration into the air at lineouts, combined with those soft hands, is a key part of the All Blacks’ set piece.
“If New Zealand are to find their best back-row blend before next year’s World Cup, the hard call has to be made, with Cane relegated to the bench or jettisoned completely.”
⏰ Thursday 11:30am NZT
— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) July 6, 2022
Ian Foster is unlikely to make many changes.
Despite Barnes’ protestations, All Blacks head coach Ian Foster is unlikely to drop his captain as New Zealand look to secure a test series victory against Ireland this Saturday.
Foster isn’t expected to make too many changes to his side, although Sam Whitelock has been ruled out due to concussion, while David Havili, Jack Goodhue and Will Jordan are available again after recovering from Covid-19.
For Ireland, Johnny Sexton will be available to play after being cleared of concussion, while Mack Hansen and Rob Herring are also available after returning to training.