Why Aaron Smith backs Ardie Savea ahead of Scott Barrett for All Blacks captaincy

Jared Wright
All Blacks scrum-half Aaron Smith and forward Ardie Savea and Scott Barrett.

Aaron Smith has had his say on the All Blacks' captaincy debate.

Scrum-half Aaron Smith has weighed in on the All Blacks captaincy debate with Ardie Savea and Scott Barrett the leading candidates to replace Sam Cane.

Cane announced that he would be retiring from international rugby after the 2024 season, but it is expected that new head coach Scott Robertson will name a new skipper this year.

Robertson stated that the prerequisite for his captain is that they are ‘world-class’ and that Savea and Barrett are seen as the two front runners for the position.

Ardie Savea or Scott Barrett?

Smith, who captained the All Blacks on one occasion, believes that both players fit the bill but he is backing Savea for the role.

“You’ve got two different types of players and personalities,” Smith told Rugby Direct.

“Scott and Ardie are both men of action, not many words. They’re powerful when they do speak and the leadership quality in both is high.

“For me you’ve got to go with your best player and the best player in the world last year was Ardie Savea — and he has been for a while.

“It was a two-horse race between him and Antoine Dupont for a couple of years there. I thought Ardie was robbed a couple of years ago, but it is what it is. Ardie’s credentials of when he’s led and how he’s led probably give him a jump-start.”

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Barrett captained the Crusaders under Robertson and Smith believes that will give him an edge.

“If you gave it to Scooter [Barrett], which is a great option, you’re favouring the cohesiveness with Razor. They’ve got that connection. They’ve won titles as coach and captain together,” he said.

Savea’s emotional IQ

Smith added that the leadership will be shared in the squad but believes that Savea would thrive with the responsibility of having the official title.

He believes that the back-rower’s emotional IQ is underrated and hailed Savea for his ability to “do it all.”

“The big thing for Ardie is his sway around the emotional heartbeat of a team,” he added.

“Ardie’s emotional IQ is high. People probably don’t give him as much credit for that. He’s a strong voice. He will always challenge people, coaches, media on what he believes in. He’s got such a big heart.

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“From a young, talented man coming in to changing gears at the 2019 World Cup and becoming one of the best players in the world, he’s the first guy you pick.

“He still amazes me and is someone I really enjoyed playing with because he can do it all.”

Smith also put forward two other potential candidates with plenty of experience in playmaker Beauden Barrett and hooker Codie Taylor.

“It sounds like a two-horse race, but you’ve got guys with huge intangibles like Beauden Barrett. He’s a massive leader with a calm head and a lot of experience,” he continued.

“One who doesn’t get talked about enough is Codie Taylor. He’s an outstanding performer, the way he prepares himself and is diligent around his homework and the mana he carries.”

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