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Cane ready to lead NZ from front again

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 11/11/2016 Angelo Risso

All Blacks openside Sam Cane played his first ever end-of-year Test at the Stadio Olimpico in 2012, so it's fitting he returns as skipper.

Cane, 24, has been named All Blacks captain for Saturday's Test against Italy in Rome, marking just the second time in which the Chiefs co-captain has worn the armband.

He had earlier led the side in last year's cruisy 58-14 World Cup group win over Namibia.

"I feel a lot more ready and prepared this time, probably a lot more comfortable in my own leadership style and ability," Cane said.

"The key for me will be to draw from others as well and the best way to use that, asking questions and making sure we're all contributing."

Widely considered a permanent All Blacks captain of the future, Cane earned his first taste of northern hemisphere rugby in the side's 42-10 win over Italy in 2012.

He said the experience, in just his fourth Test, had stayed with him.

"I remember the crowd being deafening when Italy scored a try right down near the left upright, it was an awesome experience," Cane said.

Both coaches have dropped a few surprises in their team line-ups this week, as the All Blacks look to rest players for the Tests ahead and Italy get their northern campaign underway.

Cane said he and his teammates were on red alert for Italy's threats at the set-piece, particularly after shipping 40 points to the Irish last weekend in Chicago.

He would also look to fellow senior players such as Aaron Cruden, Israel Dagg and Wyatt Crockett wherever possible.

"Judging by the preparation, (our players) aren't leaving any stone unturned because they want to take his chance with both hands," the 38-cap Cane said.

"A lot of areas Ireland threatened and almost exposed us in are strengths of Italy's as well, so we need to nail those."

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