All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has revealed that Sam Cane will captain the side in their Rugby Championship opener with Argentina on July 20.
The world champions’ regular skipper, Kieran Read, and their vice-captain, Sam Whitelock, are among eight members of the Crusaders team who will not be travelling to Buenos Aires after their recent triumph over the Jaguares in the Super Rugby Final.
Codie Taylor, Owen Franks, Joe Moody, Matt Todd, Richie Mo’unga and Jack Goodhue are the other six Crusaders players in the All Blacks’ squad who will not be involved in the Argentina Test. They are being rested for the Pumas match but will be considered for selection for the Test against South Africa in Wellington on July 27.
Hansen confirmed, however, that Crusaders newcomers Sevu Reece and Braydon Ennor and one-Test wing George Bridge would be in the side to travel to Argentina while Highlanders back-row Shannon Frizell would not be going as he suffered a cut that was right on a joint and prevented him from training.
“We want him to go back and train and if he flies he loses four days of his training time,” he told the All Blacks’ official website.
Veteran inside centre Sonny Bill Williams had come through the week’s training and was a possible contender for a place next weekend in Buenos Aires.
“He is a shot to play but we’re not going to risk him,” said Hansen.
“As much as we want him to play and he needs game time, if he’s not 100 percent, there’s not point putting him out there and him reinjuring it. We’ll make that decision next week. He’s training really well, making very good progress.”
If he didn’t make the team to play Argentina Hansen was sure he would be available to play in Wellington.
Hansen said there would be two challenges, external and internal, facing the All Blacks in Buenos Aires.
“The external challenge is an Argentina team that has a lot of unity and has had a lot of time together,” he said.
“They’re a big pack, they’ve got a lot of confidence, and they’ve just had a little bit of adversity so will be somewhat more determined. It would be a great way to get rid of the pain of losing the final if they beat us.
“The internal challenge is moulding the team quickly into our patterns, our way of playing and getting connected in really tight. We’ll have to work hard at that.”
All Blacks to Argentina:
Forwards: Asafo Aumua, Dane Coles, Liam Coltman, Nepo Laulala, Atu Moli, Angus Ta'avao, Karl Tu'inukuafe, Ofa Tu'ungafasi, Brodie Retallick, Patrick Tuipulotu, Jackson Hemopo, Sam Cane (capt), Vaea Fifita, Luke Jacobson, Dalton Papalii, Ardie Savea.
Backs: TJ Perenara, Aaron Smith, Brad Weber, Beauden Barrett, Josh Ioane, Ngani Laumape, Anton Lienert-Brown, Sonny Bill Williams, Braydon Ennor, Jordie Barrett, George Bridge, Rieko Ioane, Sevu Reece, Ben Smith (vice-capt).