Kieran Read and Dan Carter are the leading candidates
The All Blacks are set to blood a new captain on their four-match end-of-year tour to Europe.
All Black coach Steve Hansen has intimated that skipper Richie McCaw will lead the team in the tour opener against Scotland next weekend but will be rested for the world champions’ following fixture against Italy.
With just a week separating the two Tests, Hansen will revert to the maligned rotation policy instigated by his predecessor Graham Henry for the trip to Italy that will result in either Kieran Read or Dan Carter captaining the side for the first time.
"That is a possibility and I see that as a positive," Hansen said. "It will give someone the chance to take over the leadership.
"Kieran Read or Dan Carter are probably the two leading candidates, depending on what the final selections are."
McCaw has not missed a Test since he was rested for the final World Cup pool match against Canada on October 2 last year and sitting out the encounter against the Azzurri would ensure the talisman is fresh for the blockbuster matches against Wales and England.
Hansen, however, assured that he would not fall into the trap of dividing the squad. "There won't be an A and a B side but there will be a large amount of change," he said.
Touching on the controversial selection of injury prone veteran lock Ali Williams, the unbeaten All Black mentor said it was a case of opting for experience and dismissed suggestions that it would be the 31-year-old’s swansong.
"I'm hoping he stands up and plays extremely well - if he does that, it won't be," Hansen said. "He's got back in the side because of what he has done previously."
Hansen also confirmed that Read will retain the role of calling the line-outs. "‘Reado' drives our line-outs and he will continue to do that. Where Ali is a great asset is how he gets ready to play . . . 75 Tests is a lot of Tests."