Cane working his way back to full Test match mode

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Cane said from Cardiff on Tuesday that he had come through his substitute appearance against the USA Eagles well, although his timing was not at the level he wanted.


But he said returning to full Test match mode was something that was going to take time. He wasn't yet at Test match level, and his goal was to target each day and each week to be a better player by the end of it.


"Hopefully, if I do that, I'll get up to speed reasonably quickly, but there's no expectations or pressure internally, or from the coaches' point of view, to take off immediately from where I left off," he said.


"I'm loving being back in the environment, the high standards, the training level and the intensity, getting help and training with such quality players and coaches. I'm used to that level, I know what's required, it's just about making sure I can get my body back to doing it as quick as possible," he said.


Cane said suffering the injury at the start of 2021 was cruel after what he felt was one of his best seasons for the All Blacks in 2020, especially having assumed the captaincy. A benefit from his injury was that surgery revealed earlier damage that needed to be repaired and dealt with.


It also had benefits in allowing him to have a holiday in the South Island while also taking on study for a diploma in agri-business.



Having got the tour underway in Washington DC, the side was excited to come up against the Six Nations champions as they tested themselves against northern sides.


With four captains fielded during the 2021 season in his absence, Cane said it was good for the All Blacks in terms of leadership and in overall depth.


By not having the extra weight of captaincy, he said it was nice to focus on achieving a high level of performance. It was a common-sense decision not to have that responsibility when he wasn't exactly where his game needed to be.


The side completed their first full day in Cardiff on Monday (UK time), having travelled immediately after their game against the USA Eagles, and then bussed from Heathrow to Cardiff. They had a gym session and trained at an indoor facility after their match review from Saturday.


Wales have had injury problems in the lead-up to Sunday's game, and their line-up would be different in several areas from when they last played for the bronze medal at the 2019 World Cup in Japan. But, the All Blacks would be getting into their video footage of players in the days ahead to familiarise themselves with opponents, he said.



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