Sam Cane to succeed Kieran Read as All Blacks captain

Veteran flanker Sam Cane has been announced as the All Blacks' new captain, after Kieran Read departed the role following last year's Rugby World Cup.

Coach Ian Foster made the announcement on Sky Sport's The Breakdown on Tuesday night.

Cane, 28, made his Test debut back in 2012 and was long groomed as Richie McCaw's successor at No. 7. Five years on from McCaw's retirement, Cane will also follow in the All Black great's footsteps as skipper.

"It's a pretty exciting challenge really and as I've spent more time in the All Blacks and grown as a player, I've become a lot more comfortable being a leader in the team," Cane said.

"The great thing about the All Blacks is that the leadership group is full of captains and experienced players already, so I'm just really looking forward to working closely with that group and doing my best to lead them and the rest of the squad."

Cane's promotion to the top job completes the All Blacks' new leadership team with Foster having taken over from Steve Hansen at the start of the year.

Whether the All Blacks play any rugby this season could depend on whether a "trans-Tasman travel" bubble is created, as both the Australian and New Zealand Governments have discussed, as all other international travel appears to be uncertain amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Such a travel corridor could allow the All Blacks and Wallabies to play their annual Bledisloe Cup series, though perhaps without any crowds.

Whatever the case, Foster is confident he has found the right man to succeed Read.

"Sam is an experienced All Black with eight years in the team now and is a 'follow me' type of leader and a very good thinker in the game," Foster said. "He has a natural ability to connect with everyone in the team and is straightforward and direct when he needs to be.

"There's massive respect for Sam amongst the players and management, and he's perfectly placed to lead the All Blacks into the future."

Cane's promotion also means Ardie Savea's future lies at either No. 6 or No. 8. Savea filled the blindside flanker role at last year's World Cup but hadn't been seen in Super Rugby before its suspension this season because of injury.

The All Blacks also farewelled stars Ben Smith and Sonny Bill Williams after last year's World Cup, while Brodie Retallick is on sabbatical in 2020.