Sam Cane is willing and able for All Blacks
Sam Cane was sporting a six-stitch gash in his head yesterday, and a grin a mile wide as he savoured a long overdue return to the rugby arena.
After coming through 30 minutes of the All Blacks' Friday night hitout in Albany before a head clash forced him off 10 minutes ahead of schedule, Cane pronounced himself fit and able to do whatever was required next week in Sydney.
That's no mean feat considering the 22-year-old flanker hasn't played since injuring his knee for the Chiefs back in May. He's had a long rehab, and what's seemed an equally long wait before lacing up his boots in anger.
"It was just getting the contact back in the shoulders and testing the lungs out again, and it was enjoyable," he said of the run-around against North Harbour and Northland.
The knee? "No worries," he added, saying he could have played had the Chiefs made the semifinals.
"The last two months have been all about hard work, and in the back of my mind was the opportunity to make this squad and pull on the black jersey again. That's what drives you during those times of training by yourself."
Cane wasn't sure whether he'll be required for bench duty next week, but he's learned that it pays to be ready when you're backing up the All Blacks skipper in these twilight years of his career.
"Anything can happen and if the opportunity comes and I'm needed out there, I've got to be ready," he said.
Cane has noticed from his sideline spot a growing confidence in the Australian game through this year, but warns that Bledisloe buoyancy is definitely a two-way street.
"This team has achieved a lot and there's plenty of confidence here too, so we'll definitely respect them but we'll back ourselves to get the job done," he added.
He's also got no doubts about the ability of Aaron Cruden to get the job done at No 10 once again. "He backs himself and he's got the skills and ability to back that up. We know as forwards when we give him good ball he's got pretty magic feet and good hands, and creates space for the guys out wide.
"He's got a steady head, and he's a leader on the field as well."
Sunday Star Times