Ardie Savea to captain New Zealand in Rugby Championship

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New Zealand's Ardie Savea, left, congratulates teammate New Zealand's Aaron Smith afterSmith's his 100th test after their Bledisloe Cup rugby union test match against Australia at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021. (Brett Phibbs/Photosport via AP)

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Backrower Ardie Savea will captain the All Blacks in their remaining five matches in the Rugby Championship.

Regular captain Sam Cane is not available because of injury and his stand-in Sam Whitelock did not travel with the team to Australia on Thursday because his wife is expecting a baby. Scrumhalf Aaron Smith, who recently captained the All Blacks for the first time, and flyhalf Richie Mo’unga also did not travel for the same reason, leaving Savea to take on the leadership role for the first time.

Head coach Ian Foster chose Savea, a veteran of 52 tests who has captained the Wellington-based Hurricanes in Super Rugby, over experienced hooker Codie Taylor.

“Ardie has been a key part of our leadership group and I love that he has a very different style of leadership,” Foster said Saturday. “He’s very empathetic.

“He’s got a great affinity right across the group and reads the group well from a family and emotional side and I think that’s a really important quality to have in the situation we’re in.”

Flyhalf Beauden Barrett and lock Brodie Retallick will act as Savea's vice-captains.

The All Blacks will play Australia in Perth next weekend before moving to Queensland where the remainder of the Rugby Championship will be played. The team then travels to the United States and Europe for test matches as part of a tour which will keep them away from home for at least 14 weeks.

Whitelock and Cane likely will rejoin the squad for the later matches.


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