Cane ready for belated Super Rugby action

LIAM NAPIER
Last updated 05:00 19/03/2014
SEAN WILLIS/Fairfax NZ

The Chiefs departed with several injuries, but assistant coach Wayne Smith says the team is ready for their trip to Perth and South Africa.

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Sam Cane's false start could be a blessing. Realising the need to avoid burnout and manage expectations, the Chiefs have carefully managed Cane's workload from day one. 

Questions about the theory of sharing duties with century-maker Tanerau Latimer have slowly subsided. The benefits of such a tactic have since been obvious.   

Once again, the All Blacks flanker is set to endure another heavy toll this year. In the middle of attempting to help the Chiefs secure a third successive title, Cane will be required for three tests against England in June.

That will be followed by the business end of the Chiefs' campaign, the Four Nations and end-of-year tour. It's relentless.  

The current rugby climate, especially for the role expected from a rugged openside, is brutal.  

While initially despondent at being forced to sit out the Chiefs' opening three matches, Cane can now see the benefits of his unscheduled late start. 

''When you get an injury like this you've got to sit back and look for some positives. That's one. It's a long season and to have a few more weeks off at the start, it's not necessarily a bad thing when you look at the big picture,'' he said.

''After having December and January off I was looking forward to getting back into things. It was disappointing to get an injury in the last pre-season game. 

''But the knee is feeling quite good now. It was pleasing to get through a full day's training and we've got a couple more over there [Perth]. If I get through them I'll be available.''

In his comeback match against the Western Force on Friday night, Cane is likely to be eased in from the bench. He expects the resurgent Force, who come off their first back-to-back wins since 2011, to pose a genuine threat. 

Often the sideline is the best place to assess progress. With his leg up, Cane was buoyed by his side's performance against the Stormers. It was the first time this season the Chiefs have enjoyed a decent share of possession and, thus, displayed their lethal attacking abilities. 

''We had two gutsy wins and, maybe, in other years we would have lost those. It's pleasing to get those type of wins,'' he said. ''We definitely enjoy scoring more tries, like we did against the Stormers.''

Despite being unbeaten, assistant coach Wayne Smith made it clear the defending champions would not become complacent.   

''This competition is all about keeping your feet on the ground. Past success doesn't guarantee anything,'' he said. ''You've got to keep working on the character, attitude and spirit and keep improving your skill and decision-making execution. There's a few more months of that yet."

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