Sam Whitelock to lead All Blacks in end-of-year Tests

Date published: October 20 2021 - Planet Rugby

Sam Whitelock will take over New Zealand’s captaincy from Ardie Savea in the opening Test of their end-of-year tour of the northern hemisphere, against the USA in Washington DC on Saturday.

That was the word from All Blacks assistant coach John Plumtree, who confirmed that the experienced second-row would be skipper for the whole tour which also includes Tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland and France.

Right man for the job

Plumtree said although Savea did a good job as the team’s leader during the recent Rugby Championship matches in Australia and despite first-choice skipper Sam Cane returning to the squad after recovering from injury, the team’s management believed Whitelock, who captained the side earlier this year in New Zealand, was the right man to lead the team.

“Ardie’s been recognised for the great job he did in Australia, winning the Rugby Championship, his style of leadership was fantastic but it’s also great to have Sam come in, his experience,” Plumtree told Reuters.

“We think it’s good for the team now that Sam takes over.”

Whitelock is set to return to action after being sidelined during the Rugby Championship due to paternity leave and subsequent quarantine issues.

He is relishing the prospect of returning to the Test arena.

“I just want to get out there and get into it. It’s been a long time, with a couple of false starts for me to get back with the team, but that just makes it so much more special when you do get here,” he said.

Plumtree said the All Blacks’ long flight to the USA had not dampened the enthusiasm among the team’s players, many of whom were keen to take in the sights of the American capital city.

“I think quite a few people are pretty excited about it, go and have a look around,” he added.

“We’ve got this whole (lot of) monuments and museums and things to look at.”