All Blacks Captain Sam Cane Announces Surprise Retirement: A Dramatic Shift in New Zealand Rugby Leadership

Veteran All Blacks flanker Sam Cane has announced his retirement from international rugby, effective after the 2024 season. This surprise decision has sparked speculation about the future leadership of the New Zealand national team, with current coach Scott Robertson potentially playing a role in the move.

Rugby Union News: Sam Cane Announces Retirement, Sparking Speculation

Former All Black Israel Dagg has suggested that current New Zealand captain Sam Cane was “forced” into retirement from international rugby by new head coach Scott Robertson. The 32-year-old back-row forward announced on Monday that he has signed a three-year deal with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, confirming that the 2024 Test season will be his last at the international level.

Cane, who took over the captaincy from Kieran Read after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, led the All Blacks to the final of the 2023 global tournament, where they narrowly lost 12-11 to the Springboks in France. However, his international career has now come to a sudden end, with Dagg hinting that Robertson may have played a role in the decision.

“I get a sense that this was forced. I get a sense that there was a shoulder tap from the one and only (Robertson), saying: ‘G’Day son, I think the writing is on the wall in terms of where you are seen in New Zealand rugby, Scott Barrett is going to take over the captaincy’,” Dagg told SENZ Radio.

Robertson, who is set to take over as the new All Blacks head coach, has not guaranteed Cane a place in the squad for the upcoming Tests against England and Fiji in July, as well as the 2024 Rugby Championship. The coach emphasized that selection will be based on form, with Cane currently sidelined due to injury.

“He’s coming back from an injury, he’s got to perform to be involved with the All Blacks. He knows that,” Robertson said. “He’s been involved with leadership meetings already. And he has still got that personality and leadership qualities.”

Cane, who has earned 95 Test caps for New Zealand, will now turn his attention to his new club in Japan, where he will look to prolong his professional career. The flanker’s sudden retirement has sparked speculation about the transition of leadership within the All Blacks setup, with Scott Barrett tipped to take over the captaincy role for the next four-year cycle.

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