Sam Cane

Sam Cane and Aaron Smith to start for All Blacks

Cane, who has spent most of the season out with injury, returns to the loose forward trio that includes the introduction of Akira Ioane, who is on the blindside and Ardie Savea at number eight.

Dane Coles starts at hooker.

There are four changes in the backs from the side that lost to Ireland, with Aaron Smith starting at halfback, Richie Mo'unga at first-five the injured Beauden Barrett, Quinn Tupaea at centre for the injured Anton Lienert-Brown and George Bridge coming onto the left wing.

Sam Cane to captain changed All Black side against Italy

Coach Ian Foster has named what is essentially his second string lineup with Cane and hooker Dane Coles in the starting lineup as they continue their return to the game following injuries.

The squad sees the young locking partnership of Tupou Vaa'i and Josh Lord named to start in the second row. It will be 21-year-old Vaa'i's fourth start in his 10th Test while 20-year-old Lord gets his first Test start after making his debut against the USA in the first Test of the Northern Tour.

All Blacks captain ready to return

Cane has been sidelined since March with a torn pectoral muscle and other complications but eased back into competition with a provincial match last week in New Zealand.

Foster said Cane was ready to step up for the game against the 'Eagles' on 24 October in Washington, along with fit-again hooker Dane Coles, who suffered a calf strain in July.

"We've already flagged that for the likes of Sam Cane and Dane, who have been out for a while with injury, this will be an ideal game to get them back in there," Foster said.

Richie McCaw backs Sam Whitelock to captain All Blacks in Sam Cane's absence

With regular captain Sam Cane out injured after having surgery on a torn pectoral tendon, All Blacks coach Ian Foster will name a new captain ahead of the opening test against Tonga on July 3.

McCaw, a double World Cup winning captain in 2011 and 2015, has suggested his former All Blacks and Crusaders team-mate Sam Whitlelock as the man for the job until Cane’s return.

“I don’t want to be saying too much, and there’s obviously a few candidates, but there’s no doubt ... Sam Whitelock, who has done it before, has done a good job over the years,” McCaw said.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane says he will come back stronger after surgery on pectoral injury

Cane is also expected to miss most of the All Blacks’ fixtures in 2021 after tearing the tendon in his right pectoral.

The 29-year-old loose forward could be sidelined for four to six months after suffering the injury in the Chiefs’ win over the Blues on March 27, but he has overcome the first hurdle in his recovery.

From his hospital bed, Cane said he would be “coming back stronger” after also having some shoulder issues fixed.

Savea opens up on possibility of filling in for Sam Cane as All Blacks captain

Cane has been sidelined for four-to-six months with a pectoral injury that will likely keep him out of the July test schedule, which is expected comprise of two Italy tests and a clash against Fiji.

While speaking to media earlier this week, Savea labelled the loss of Cane as a “massive blow”, but was hopeful his fellow loose forward can make a swift recovery.

“It’s unfortunate but I know with Sammy, he’s strong and he’s been through the trenches before with previous injuries so I’m sure he’ll come back stronger and better,” Savea said.

Super Rugby Aotearoa: How rookie Samipeni Finau has impressed Sam Cane, the Chiefs

That’s huge praise from the All Blacks skipper, who has spilled blood for the Chiefs for 10 years, and has gained a reputation for his high level of commitment and dedication to the game on and off the field.

Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan also had no hesitation in naming the uncontracted 21-year-old for his Super Rugby debut, despite still being a replacement player, ahead of more experienced loose forwards such as Mitchell Brown and Mitchell Karpik.

All Blacks skipper worries about future health

More former players have joined a class-action lawsuit against World, England and Wales rugby, which alleges a failure to protect them from the risks caused by concussions.

Those players include ex England international Steve Thompson, who at 42 has been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Former All Black Neemia Tialata is also part of the legal action.

He now has headaches and mood swings and other symptoms related to the several concussions he suffered during his career.

All Blacks captain Sam Cane ends tough year with top NZ Rugby award for 2020

Cane, who led the All Blacks to the defence of the Bledisloe Cup and the Tri Nations title in his first year as skipper, claimed the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial award during a made-for-TV special on Sky Sport.

At the start of the year no-one dared predict openside flanker Cane, who replaced Kieran Read when he retired from test rugby after the World Cup in Japan, would have to negotiate such a difficult year.

New Zealand Rugby awards contenders announced

The other nominees are hooker Dane Coles and halfback Aaron Smith.

The nominees for Black Ferns player of the year are Chelsea Alley, Kendra Cocksedge and Kennedy Simon.

Aaron Smith is also in the running for the Tom French Memorial Māori Rugby Player of the Year, as is Māori All Blacks Captain and hooker Ash Dixon and World Sevens Series winner midfielder Stacey Fluhler.

A breakthrough season for Fluhler also sees her a nominee for Black Ferns Sevens Player of the Year, along with playmaker Kelly Brazier and halfback Tyla Nathan-Wong.