Sam Cane: All Blacks skipper not concerned by being substituted in Argentina loss

·4-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

All Blacks captain Sam Cane is not concerned about being taken off with a chunk of time left during his team’s recent loss against Argentina in Christchurch.

Cane was removed and replaced by Akira Ioane with 13 minutes to go and could only watch from the sideline as his side fell to a 25-18 defeat to Los Pumas – their first against the South Americans on New Zealand soil.

The loss shifts pressure back onto Cane and his men after a short period of relief following the solid win against the Springboks at Ellis Park.

Not worried about his place

The skipper believes the substitution does not mean anything regarding his place in the team and says the coaches make decisions in the team’s best interest.

“That wasn’t pre-determined, or anything to do with me,” said Cane.

“But I back the coaches when they make a decision to sub someone, whether that’s me or anyone else.

“They’re doing it with the best interests of the team at heart, that’s how decisions are made in this team. I don’t take it personally, by any means.”

Cane’s starting position for the All Blacks has been under scrutiny this year as the side has endured one of their worst Test seasons in history. However, many believe Blues captain Dalton Papalii deserves the seven jersey after a stellar Super Rugby Pacific.

Rollercoaster

However, Cane did silence some critics against South Africa but saw more question marks again this week. He acknowledges the highs and lows of being a professional sportsman and insists your character needs to stay strong.

“The highs and lows of professional sport, it’s real,” he said of what riding this emotional rollercoaster of the last few weeks had been like.

“I think it just tests your resilience and your character, really. You’ve got to pick yourself back up and just focus on what’s important and go again. There’s no point sulking or dwelling on things. But when you put all your energy into things you can control, that helps. And you’ve just got to front up, and own it.”

The breakdown has been a particular concern for the All Blacks, and Cane said his side is looking to fix more of what they can control.

“It’s definitely a statistic that we’ve highlighted, when we do lose, the opposition kick a lot of penalties, and that’s obviously from our ill-discipline,” he added.

“You look at the ones you can control… I think we had four offsides early in the first half. It’s reacting to their cleanouts and extending the length of the ruck, which changes the offside line.

“But then we’re pretty eager to get off the line, we’ve got to have the mental patience or discipline.

“You can become frustrated on the field for whatever reason, pressure can force individuals to do things they don’t want to do, because they’re trying to make a play, because they care, and they want a good result, and sometimes it can have a detrimental effect to what you’re trying to achieve.

“Test rugby’s just a big pressure cauldron, and penalties are what release pressure.”

Discipline concerns

Cane denies that his team were not prepared for Argentina and believes discipline is a crucial area where the game was lost, specifically in the first stanza.

“We had an outstanding training week down in Christchurch, because we had about five days at home, the boys came in fresh,” he said.

“And I don’t think it was a horrible performance, by any means. That’s why I don’t think we’re way off. If we could’ve been a little bit more disciplined in that first half we could’ve put them under a lot more pressure, and potentially the game changes from there.

“But we didn’t do that, and they’re a very good side, and I don’t think that can be under-estimated in this whole thing.”

READ MORE: Asafo Aumua: All Blacks hooker recommits to Hurricanes and New Zealand Rugby

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