New All Black captain Sam Cane the ultimate competitor, says Whiteley
JOHANNESBURG - Two of Sam Cane’s biggest rivals on the rugby field - the Lions’ Jaco Kriel and Warren Whiteley - have expressed their delight in the 28-year-old flanker becoming the All Blacks’ new full-time captain.
Chiefs man, Cane, was named New Zealand captain on Tuesday, succeeding Kieran Read, who has retired from international rugby.
“I am delighted for Sam,” said Whiteley, who has faced Cane regularly at Super Rugby level.
The former Lions No 8 led the Boks on two occasions in 2017 before injury halted his Springbok career. A different knee injury may now also have ended his playing days as he contemplates a move into coaching on a full-time basis.
“I have a lot of respect for the resilience and determination Sam has shown throughout his career.”
Cane’s career was a whisker away from being over when he suffered a broken neck, playing against the Springboks at Loftus Versfeld two years ago. A clash with Francois Louw early in the Rugby Championship game in Pretoria in October 2018 - a game the All Blacks won 32-30 after staging a remarkable comeback in the second half - put Cane out of the game for months.
He, however, made a remarkable recovery and played at last year’s World Cup in Japan.
Former Bok flank and Lions captain Kriel - who has returned to the Joburg team after a stint with Gloucester in England - also only had praise for the new All Blacks skipper.
“He has been through adversity … but he came back from injury and has shown time and again he is a world class player,” said Kriel.
He added Cane could become another great All Blacks captain. “It is a difficult job … and there is a lot of pressure leading one of the world’s best teams. But, with the right structures and culture in place, I believe he will be great.”
Whiteley called Cane the “ultimate competitor”. “He always leads from the front and is well respected by his peers,” said the now lineout coach of the Lions.
“I have no doubt he will make a huge success of this great honour.”@jacq_west