Mark Taylor/Fairfax NZ
Sam Cane knows all eyes are on him to step into the breach at All Blacks level in June with Richie McCaw on a six-month sabbatical.
But first he has to convince the Chiefs coaches he is the man to be their regular starter in the No7 jersey this season.
Cane made an outstanding fist of his start and 80-minute effort against the Highlanders last week, but was quick to point out he did the same thing in last year's opener and then was reduced to the role of impact player off the bench with the occasional start for the rest of the season as the Chiefs powered to their first Super Rugby title.
On Saturday night he starts against the Cheetahs at Waikato Stadium with Tanerau Latimer again on the bench and he knows he has to perform to stay there.
''It's all about being consistent and I want to be starting at the end of the day,'' Cane said.
And that means 80-minute games if the Chiefs continue their trend of bringing the reserve open-sider on and playing both of them with Liam Messam moving from the blind side of the scrum to No8.
Such gruelling efforts take their toll on No7s, who put their body on the line more than any other player in terms of tackling, contesting the ball on the ground as well as carrying it forward. Last week Cane certainly felt the effects.
''It took a couple of days or so to recover from that first game - a few days more than normal - as being the first game of the season I was not quite used to all that contact.
''I like to see myself as an 80-minute player and the more chances you get to do that then the body gets conditioned to it and you can come home strongly in the last 20.''
Cane knows that if the forward pack around him continue to dominate opposition packs like they did against the Highlanders then he has a great launching pad to show the All Blacks selectors what he's got.
''This could be a big year for me hopefully, but again if we perform well here at the Chiefs it will promote individuals.
''I don't think it's any secret that I will have my eye on that No7 jersey come the June series, but first and foremost I've got to nail it here.
''There are a lot of good sevens around the country at the moment if you look at it. I think every
Super Rugby team has got some quality sevens and a lot of them are young as well so it's an exciting time and a challenge.''
Cane thinks if he can add small things to his game each week to help him better perform his roles he can produce what the selectors are looking for.
Ironically it is the All Blacks that have helped send his game to a new level, Cane saying his involvement with the national squad last season and the end-of-year tour had grown both his experience and confidence.
''You also learn things probably that you don't even realise at the time that you're picking up on and so to come into the Chiefs for my second year in the full squad and third year playing Super Rugby and you know you've played at a pretty high level with good intensity and you can perform at that level.
''So you're just looking to do that every week now.''
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