New Zealand team officials revealed Tuesday that veteran lock Sam Whitelock will captain the All Blacks on their five-Test tour of the United States and Europe, replacing caretaker skipper Ardie Savea.
All Blacks forwards coach John Plumtree said Whitelock, 33, would captain the team for the rest of the tour, which begins on Saturday in Washington against the United States.
After staying in New Zealand for the birth of his third child, Whitelock missed the last five All Blacks Test matches, all of which were held in Australia.
Savea led the New Zealanders to victory in the Rugby Championship, filling in for long-time captain Sam Cane, who is recovering from an injury.
Despite the fact that Cane has rejoined the New Zealand squad for the northern hemisphere tour, Plumtree said the back rower has been allowed additional time to work on his form and fitness.
“Sam Whitelock will take over the captaincy from Ardie,” Plumtree said via video chat to media.
“Ardie has been acknowledged for his outstanding performance in Australia, where he won the Rugby Championship.
“However, having Sam (Whitelock) come in with his experience is also fantastic.” Obviously, he was unable to travel to Australia for the tour. We believe he is a fantastic fit for the team now that he has taken charge.”
“We feel that Sam (Cane) just needs to focus on his game, he’s been out for a long time,” Plumtree said when asked about Cane’s captaincy status. Right now, the added responsibility of captaincy would be detrimental to his game.”
In the long run, Plumtree said Cane was still head coach Ian Foster’s captain.
“He’s been named Ian Foster’s captain, and nothing has changed in that space,” Plumtree said.
Following this weekend’s Test match against the US Eagles at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C., the Kiwis will play Wales in Cardiff on October 30.
Following that, on November 6, a Test against Italy will be held in Rome, followed by a match against Ireland in Dublin on November 13. On November 20, the tour comes to a close with a Test against France in Paris.
The arrival of the All Blacks in America came on the heels of the news that young New Zealand player Sean Wainui had perished in a vehicle accident on Monday.
The All Blacks players gathered an informal commemoration for Wainui at the team’s hotel, according to Plumtree.
“Sean Wainui’s passing has been incredibly difficult for the team,” Plumtree stated. “Hit us with a vengeance.
“Last night in the team room, the Chiefs boys planned a small drink for everyone who wanted to join in commemoration of him, and everyone came and shared some anecdotes.”
“There were some truly lovely moments.” “It’s been a difficult start to the week.”