Sam Whitelock will resume All Blacks leadership role

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After the side's Tuesday training session in Washington assistant coach John Plumtree said Whitelock would resume the leadership role. Whitelock was appointed when flanker Sam Cane suffered a chest injury earlier in the season.


He said the side recognised stand-in captain and loose forward Ardie Savea had done a great job leading the side in Australia and wrapping up the Fortinet Rugby Championship.


"His style of leadership was fantastic, but it's also great to have Sam come in with his experience. We think it's good for the team now that Sam takes over," he said.


Cane needed time to adjust to the demands of top-level rugby, and the captaincy burden was something he didn't need during that process, Plumtree said.


Should Cane come through the campaign, he would resume the captaincy next season.


"He has been named [coach] Ian Foster's captain and nothing has changed in that space. He has just come back off a massive injury so we need to give him time to come right before having the responsibility of leading the All Blacks," Plumtree said.


Cane talked with Plumtree about his game with King Country, and the flanker was confident with his body.



"That's the first step. The next is getting time out on the field and training as well. He'll get integrated back in this weekend [against the United States] at some point.


"There's no pressure on him. He's got to get out and do his thing, but it will take a little while," he said.


Plumtree said the All Blacks spent time together earlier in the week in remembrance of Maori All Black and Chiefs and Crusaders teammate Sean Wainui who died in a car accident on Monday near Tauranga.


"The Chiefs boys organised a little drink in the team room for anyone who wanted to join them in remembrance of him.


"Everyone came. They told some personal stories about what a fantastic person Sean is to them. There were some really beautiful moments. It was a special time for us as a team, and for the Chiefs and Crusaders boys who knew him best," he said.


Any players who wanted to sit out Sunday's Test with the Eagles would have that option.


"If there was someone that couldn't play because mentally it was just too tough, then absolutely.


"I don't think you'll find that. I think you'll find Sean would have wanted all those boys to be available for this Test. I'll be surprised if one of them didn't want to play," he said.


All Blacks mental skills coach Gilbert Enoka would work with any players affected by Wainui's loss.


"We have acknowledged the fact it's not over yet for some people and it is a long week, but we do have a Test match to prepare for as well," Plumtree said.



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