New All Blacks Skipper Cane Feeling ‘Blindsided’ By Directive

New All Blacks captain Sam Cane has admitted his shock at the Rugby Championship scheduling saga.

Sanzaar’s announcement last week had New Zealand playing their final game of the tournament on December 12 and meant Christmas Day would be spent in quarantine.

It had been expected that the tournament was going to be shortened to five weeks, with the final game taking place on December 5, though it is unclear whether this was ever full signed off, with all four Sanzaar countries having to agree on it.

“Obviously we were a little bit blindsided by that,” Cane said. “Our expectation and understanding had been that we’d be out [of quarantine] on the 20th, or 21st [of December].

“We were a little bit taken aback.”

Cane would not have been expecting a challenge of this nature in his opening weeks as captain but he explained how he went about overcoming the situation.

“The first reaction was, ‘Hey, that’s not what my understanding was, where’s this come from?’”, he continued.

“So I got on the phone to Fozzie [coach Ian Foster] pretty quickly, and he was in much the same boat, he’s going, ‘We didn’t see this coming, we’re working on it.’

“And he’s got a pretty calm head, so we chatted about that, and we got on a chat with the leaders pretty quickly and just reconfirmed that, ‘Hey, this isn’t the plan, we’re not going to just roll over and accept this.’

“All you can really do is try and reassure everyone that we’ll do our best to get it under control and get it on grounds that suit us, ideally. We don’t consider it a big ask, considering what we’re going to be going over there and doing.”

Talks continue between the countries over the best course and a boycott of the final match would appear unlikely at this stage. It has been suggested a simple solution would be for Rugby Championship points to be awarded for one of the two Bledisloe Cup games being held in New Zealand then scrap the December 12 game. Or by that point a trans-Tasman travel bubble could have opened, meaning quarantine would not be an issue.

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