All Blacks captain Cane looks 'to evolve' game during Japan stint

Tue, Nov 28, 2023, 7:41 AM
by AFP
All Blacks captain Sam Cane said Tuesday that he hoped "to evolve" as a player in Japan. Photo: Getty Images
All Blacks captain Sam Cane said Tuesday that he hoped "to evolve" as a player in Japan. Photo: Getty Images

All Blacks captain Sam Cane said Tuesday that he hoped "to evolve" as a player in Japan after signing a one-season deal with Tokyo Sungoliath.

Cane captained New Zealand at the Rugby World Cup but was sent off in last month's final as the All Blacks lost 12-11 to South Africa.

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The 31-year-old has never played for a team based outside his home country and he thinks his move to Japan will "test me as a rugby player".

"A lot of the areas that I want to get better at in my game -- speed, agility -- are all required in this league," the back-row forward told reporters in Tokyo.

"It will test me to evolve my game and I'm really looking forward to that."

Cane is one of several All Blacks moving to Japan for the new domestic season, which kicks off on December 9.

World Rugby player of the year Ardie Savea, fly-half Richie Mo'unga and full-back Beauden Barrett are also among the new arrivals.

Eligibility rules mean players cannot represent the All Blacks while they are based at overseas clubs.

But Cane's short-term deal means he will not miss any international games and will be available for selection in June next year.

He said he "had a long chat" with new All Blacks head coach Scott Robertson before leaving for Japan.

"Playing for the All Blacks, you have to earn that by playing well every week," said Cane.

"I know the All Blacks coaches will be keeping an eye on some of us boys over here.

"The sole focus is just to play well, try and improve as a rugby player and hopefully have the opportunity of returning to the team again."

Cane has been joined at Sungoliath by South Africa winger Cheslin Kolbe, who arrives after six years in France with Toulouse and Toulon.

The jet-heeled winger scored two tries at the World Cup and he said he was looking forward to facing some of his Springbok team-mates in Japan.

"That's one of the exciting things about this competition," said the 31-year-old.

"You're playing against a lot of the top Japanese players and a lot of players who come from abroad."

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