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Cane to take his chances on tour

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Sportal.co.nz     02 Nov 2012     Getty Images

The Bay of Plenty pilferer, who made his debut for New Zealand and won a Super Rugby title with the Chiefs this year, may not have to wait long for his wish - captain Richie McCaw is expected to temporarily hand Cane the No 7 jersey when he is likely to be rested for one or both of the opening Tests against Scotland and Italy.

Gearing up for a crucial four weeks that could determine his future as an All Black, the Rotorua-born 20-year-old is looking forward to the challenges that lay ahead and will take 'whatever [he] can get' in terms of opportunities to impress on the field.

"It's definitely exciting times. To go away for four weeks with the All Blacks and have a go at teams that we don't often get to have a crack at, for me personally it will be the first time so I'm hugely excited," said Cane.

"I guess the biggest challenge for me is keeping fit each week. You can train as much as you like but that match fitness is something different.

"When I get a shot I've got to take it so any game time I get, whether it be a start or a spot off the bench, I've got to perform well when I'm out there.

"I'm not sure too many players expect to start but for sure I'd like to have a start."

A month of intense learning is expected and Cane is positioned perfectly under the wing of the 31-year-old veteran McCaw, who has already begun to hand down valuable lessons to his would-be successor.

"Something I've learned [from McCaw] is that it doesn't all just happen on Saturday; it starts the Sunday before and there's a lot of work that goes in," added Cane.

"The more clarity and confidence you have going into the game, the more you can get out there and do your thing and that's obviously something Richie is pretty good at."

Both McCaw and Cane made their international debuts at the tender age of 20 against Ireland; the former on the 2001 European tour. While McCaw was immediately recognised as a star of the future, Cane impressed on his second outing with a pair of tries in the All Blacks' 60-nil rout of the Irish in June.

McCaw confirmed his status as New Zealand's premier openside - ahead of Marty Holah, Daniel Braid and Josh Blackie - a week after his debut during a 37-6 belting of Scotland in Edinburgh.

Cane is keen to use the same fixture, on November 11, as the next stepping stone towards his own All Black legacy.

"I'm sure the crowds will be there and they'll be right behind their home team and generally that shows they grow and extra arm or a leg so we've got to be up for that," continued Cane.

"We know from past experiences, and from how teams went at the World Cup, that they are some good teams; particularly the Welsh. The English are always dangerous and then the Scots and Italy are a bit unpredictable because we haven't seen a lot of them so it will be interesting."

International duties during the Rugby Championship minimised Cane's time in the ITM Cup but after a handful of games for his beloved Steamers, he was able to judge how new law changes, trialled in the provincial competition, will influence the All Blacks when they are implemented on tour.

The changes include a five-second time limit at rucks and a shortened scrum engage sequence - designed to increase the pace of the game.

"I guess where it will come into effect is when we're close to the line and trying to get go-forward with the forwards but generally we only do that for a couple of phases and then we'll put it wide anyway," explained Cane.

"I think it will speed up their game a bit, because they like to slow it down like that, and hopefully that will work in our favour.

"Generally it's taken guys about two games to get the timing all right, but it's their [the opposition] first time as well so we'll see how it goes."

The All Blacks kick off their European tour against Scotland in Edinburgh next Monday morning (NZT) before tackling Italy, Wales and England in successive weeks.