New Zealand

Cane able to fill McCaw’s boots

Tue, 07 May 2013 18:27
Sam-cane-scores-630 Matttoddcrusaderstraining Dan-braid-blues
Cane is the next best prospect

Chiefs flank Sam Cane is being earmarked to wear the All Black No.7 jersey in the absence of regular captain Richie McCaw.

McCaw, who’s a on sabbatical, will miss next month’s three-Test series against France and his absence in Super Rugby has resulted in a new wave of New Zealand openside flanks jockeying for the coveted starting berth.

Former All Black selector Peter Thorburn believes Cane has the inside track on Crusaders counterpart Matt Todd after being blooded by Steve Hansen last year.       

''Cane is the next best prospect,'' Thorburn said. ''The No.7's role has changed. It is now also a linking, continuity and ball-carrying role. Cane covers most of those areas pretty well and has good anticipation.

''Matt Todd does those things well too but there's just something, to me, that he is not quite there yet. He's gutsy but I think when the Crusaders are not dominating he can disappear a little bit.''

Todd was put on standby by then coach Graham Henry during New Zealand’s triumphant 2011 World Cup campaign when McCaw struggled with a foot injury but he has failed to impress incumbent All Black boss Hansen.  

Other contenders include Tanerau Latimer, who’s been rotating with Cane at the Chiefs, Luke Braid (Blues), Karl Lowe (Hurricanes) and John Hardie (Highlanders), with Hurricanes rookie Ardie Savea considered too green to warrant a look-in.

Braid has caught Thorburn’s eye but he has doubts over whether the Blues back row would be able to deliver at Test level.

''It is only in the last two games that I have thought he has played a really good No 7's role,'' said Thorburn.

''When you think about it, there is not a lot of experience or depth there... Matt Todd may be given a chance but they seem to be reluctant to take him, don't they?''

Hansen is expected to name a 35-man wider training squad for camps in Mt Maunganui on May 19 and May 26.

Source: Fairfax NZ