You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Cane comfortable leading new-look All Blacks against Italy

Reuters Reuters 11/11/2016 Mark Bendeich
New Zealand Training © REUTERS New Zealand Training

Stand-in captain Sam Cane feels comfortable leading New Zealand against Itay on Saturday even though he has done it only once before and has a relatively inexperienced line-up as the world champions look to bounce back from a rare defeat.  

Cane will lead the team out into Rome's Stadio Olimpico in place of Kieran Read who is being rested along with several other established players for a test that no one, not even Italy, expect the All Blacks to lose.

But some New Zealand fans remain nervous about another poor performance after Ireland beat the world champions for the first time in 111 years a week ago to end the All Blacks' record 18-match wining streak.

Many young players are taking up key positions under Cane's charge, with two likely debutants starting on the bench. Other stalwarts sitting the game out are fullback Ben Smith and winger Julian Savea.

"I feel a lot more ready and prepared this time and a lot more comfortable in my own leadership style and ability as well," Cane told reporters on Friday.

"The key for me will be to draw from others ... making sure we are all contributing. All of the weight is not on my shoulders."

In his debut as captain, during the pool stages of last year's World Cup, New Zealand rested many big names and performed relatively poorly against lowly Namibia, although they still won 58-14 and went on to lift the trophy.

Italy, ranked 13th in the world and holders of the Six Nations wooden spoon, are given no hope of repeating Ireland's feat but the All Blacks will be taking no chances.

"It's almost a whole new team we are running out," Cane said.

"It's important that we get this right because a lot of the areas that Ireland threatened and almost exposed us on are strengths of Italy as well," the flanker added.

"They will challenge us up front."

More From Reuters

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon