Rugby: Brodie Retallick expects seamless transition from All Blacks captain as Sam Whitelock replaces Sam Cane

Assistant coach Scott McLeod and midfielder David Havili reveal how the team will face an exhausted midfielder after Braydon Ennor’s exclusion with appendicitis. Video / NZ Herald

All Blacks’ lock return Brodie Retallick believes there will be a seamless transition to the captain role for lockdown veteran Sam Whitelock for the next testing window in July.

Whitelock was named the team’s captain in place of injured open-ended flanker Sam Cane, who was barred from action for four to six months in April with a torn pectoral muscle. While this schedule could see Cane return for the All Blacks rugby championship campaign, Whitelock will lead the team in the meantime.

This won’t be the first time Whitelock has taken on the role, having been captain of the national team six times, and Retallick has said he has many qualities that make him well suited for it.

“Sam Whitelock has experience as captain of the Crusaders,” Retallick said when asked if it would make a big difference in the styles of captain of Cane and Whitelock.

“He’s a very deep thinker and he leaves no stone unturned; he will make sure everything is done right and to high standards, and he’s a great person.

“I guess they’re both similar enough to be fair; similar personalities so I don’t think that would be too much of a difference for the boys here.”

Sam Whitelock has been named captain of the All Blacks in Sam Cane's absence.  Photo / Photosport
Sam Whitelock has been named captain of the All Blacks in Sam Cane’s absence. Photo / Photosport

With 122 caps to his name, Whitelock is the most experienced player in the 36-man All Blacks squad for the upcoming July tests against Fiji and Tonga, ahead of Aaron Smith (97), Beauden Barrett (88) and Retallick (81). Like Retallick, Barrett returns to the All Blacks without having played rugby in New Zealand in the past year after spending time in Japan on sabbatical.

For the 30-year-old, the time in Japan allowed him to cool off as part of a big plan to get fit and shoot for the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

By comparison, the rest of the squad in the upcoming series looks relatively fresh, with 18 players from the squad having taken 10 or fewer tests in the black jersey.

Retallick, who gives a welcome boost to lockdown stocks available in the country, said he had not had much contact with the All Blacks’ coaches and management team during his time in Japan, he said. was hoping to hear his name called out as part of the team for the upcoming testing window.

“I hoped so,” he admitted. “It was the decision of the coaches and coaches. Obviously I am very grateful for this opportunity.

“I am ready if I am chosen. Whether I am or not is not my decision, but I am ready to start getting back to it.”

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