Sam Cane (File)
London - The All Blacks' newest captain celebrated with a hug from his mum.
Sam Cane admitted even he was stunned when coach Steve Hansen told him on Monday that he'll not only be playing against Namibia in New Zealand's second Pool C match on Thursday in the Rugby World Cup, but also leading the team at the Olympic Stadium.
"It took me back a little bit," Cane said.
Safe to say, everyone was taken aback a little. He was grateful to be able break the news to his parents, Malcolm and Kathy, in person at breakfast on Tuesday. "They were very proud. Mum gave me a cuddle."
The job was expected to go to a more senior figure, such as Keven Mealamu, who has captained some games, or Liam Messam, another Super Rugby skipper.
Cane has been an All Black flanker for three years, and backing up probably the greatest All Black ever has limited him to only 11 starts in 25 tests. Yet, he has always been ready to go, and willing to help the team.
Cane said McCaw congratulated him, said he was available for advice, and backing him. McCaw was in the reserves.
Cane said he's never had designs on the captaincy.
"I grew up dreaming of becoming an All Black, and becoming a great All Black," he said. "Captaincy is something that over the last couple of years I've grown more comfortable with. I enjoy that part of it, and having a say in the team and how to make it better. Like I said, though, I was shocked."
Cane led the Chiefs for the first time this year when Messam was hurt. He was chosen because he was a problem-solver, demanding, and encouraging. His talent and value were underlined at the Chiefs awards, which Cane swept. He took all three player-of-the-season trophies as voted by the fans, players, and coaches.
Cane will be the 67th skipper of the All Blacks, and fifth youngest at 23, two months younger than McCaw.
15 Colin Slade, 14 Nehe Milner-Skudder, 13 Malakai Fekitoa, 12 Sonny Bill Williams, 11 Julian Savea, 10 Beauden Barrett, 9 TJ Perenara, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Sam Cane (captain), 6 Liam Messam, 5 Samuel Whitelock, 4 Luke Romano, 3 Charlie Faumuina, 2 Codie Taylor, 1 Ben Franks
Substitutes: 16 Keven Mealamu, 17 Wyatt Crockett, 18 Tony Woodcock, 19 Kieran Read, 20 Richie McCaw, 21 Tawera Kerr-Barlow, 22 Ma'a Nonu, 23 Ben Smith