Whitelock takes over as All Blacks captain for tour of Europe

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Sam Whitelock has taken over as New Zealand captain for the tour of Europe after Sam Cane was ruled out.

Cane returned home after suffering two cheekbone fractures in a 38-31 win over Japan at the National Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday.

Whitelock will lead the All Blacks when they face Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, Scotland at Murrayfield and England at Twickenham.

The lock did not feature against the Brave Blossoms last weekend due to an inner ear problem.

All Blacks forwards coach Jason Ryan says it was an easy decision to pick Whitelock as stand-in skipper.

"Really experienced, really respected in the group," Ryan said. "It was pretty straightforward, and really well supported by the vice-captains.

"He has (played) 100-plus test matches, so he's experienced a lot. He's the right man for the job."

Vice-captain Ardie Savea had no issue with being overlooked.

He said: "Regardless of if I was skip or vice, my role doesn't change in terms of how I lead in this team.

"I am just happy to be in the team, and if I do get a chance this week, just grateful to put on the jersey.

"I am stoked that we have Sammy taking control of the side and he will have myself and Baz (Beauden Barrett) right behind him, beside him."