Sam Cane stepping out of McCaw's shadow
Sam Cane could probably front 50 press scrums and never avoid the inevitable questions about Richie McCaw.
Succeeding New Zealand's record test holder, for no matter how short a period, never shapes as an enviable task, made all the more difficult with the public divided about his ability compared to that of Matt Todd or even Chiefs team-mate Tanerau Latimer.
Still, Cane has taken the constant speculation and comparisons squarely on his young shoulders, proving some critics wrong in Christchurch on Saturday with a mature performance which included a game high 16 tackles for the All Blacks.
The 21-year-old also looks set to add to his six tests on Saturday when France arrive at Yarrow Stadium hoping to avoid a clean sweep of the series.
Cane, like many of his team-mates, was quick to admit their bodies were still a ''bit sore'' following the weekend's powerful 30-0 victory as they went through their first serious hit-out of the week.
''It was probably up to us to mentally switch on a little bit more and stay accurate,'' he said, before being quizzed on how strong the motivation was ahead of the dead rubber.
''I don't think the motivation is lacking, it's just two weeks of test footy, the body takes a bit to recover.''
You could forgive the relative test rookie for feeling the bumps and bruises, given he has rarely been asked to back up too often for the Chiefs in 2013.
Cane, like the rest of the All Blacks asked to front the media yesterday, was giving little away about likely team selections, although it does appear he would be asked to start for the third week in succession.
Four questions down and it was inevitable McCaw's name would be mentioned in an enquiry about how Cane was feeling not walking around in the great leader's shadow.
''I've really enjoyed the two 80 minutes in the last two weeks, it's been a test and it's something I really enjoyed.''
Not that McCaw's name was put to bed, as he fielded another question, this time about whether he had been talking to the New Zealand player of the year during the series.
''He was around a little bit [in Christchurch], I think he was just doing his own training, but he didn't get too involved and let us do our own thing and Kieran [Read] lead the squad. We haven't had too much contact.''
So was that weird?
''It's a little bit different. He brings so much to the team, training and playing wise, it is a little bit different. But there is a great group of guys here and there are a lot of guys who have played a lot of test still in the squad.''
Taranaki Daily News