All Blacks coach Ian Foster has addressed his captain’s comments about “brutal” fans last week, saying he may not agree with Sam Cane but respects his choice to speak his mind.
Cane, Foster and the All Blacks drew heavy criticism following their shock 25-15 loss to Argentina earlier this month, leading the skipper to say “brutal” fans “might like to think they know a lot about the game of rugby, but in reality they don’t”.
While some agreed with Cane’s words, it also drew some reproach, leading to Foster discussing the comments on Newstalk ZB.
"When it comes to him expressing himself, I would like to think the New Zealand public know that their captain is going to say what he thinks. That's what he does," Foster said.
"Do I agree with what he said? Not really, and I know - talking to Sam he knows it too - that our fans are lovely.
"At the end of the day we know you can't say that, and he fundamentally doesn't believe that. We're hardest on ourselves, we go through that process and when you keep hearing it, it challenges you mentally and he'll learn a bit from that.
"I don't think there should be any mistake, he's developing into an outstanding captain and I'm excited by that."
Cane took over the captaincy from Kieran Read at the end of last year’s Rugby World Cup but it hasn’t been a smooth transition.
Cane and the All Blacks have only managed two wins in five Tests so far however those two wins – both against the Wallabies – allowed them to lock away the Bledisloe Cup for another year.
The other three Tests featured a draw and loss to Australia before the upset against the Pumas.
Foster said there’s been no doubting Cane’s leadership throughout 2020 though.
"When it comes to Sam, I support him 100 per cent," Foster said.
"I think he's doing a great job internally as a captain, and his form on the park's been outstanding. He's got things he's still working on and that's great."