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Opinion: What kind of All Blacks captain will Sam Cane be?

Although Covid-19's put a halt to sport as we know it in this country - for the time being anyway - Ian Foster last night made his first real mark in his new role as All Blacks coach, confirming Sam Cane as his new captain.

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After a broken neck in South Africa last year, Cane has helped turn the Chiefs around. Source: 1 NEWS

Cane's selection as captain shouldn't come as too big a surprise, with Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Dane Coles or Beauden Barrett the other names you'd imagine might be in the ring.

But for all intents and purposes, Foster appears to have hit the nail on the head with the decision.

While you could make the case for anyone on that list being the right choice to take over as captain, Foster is backing Cane, who at 28-years-old should have at least two more World Cup campaigns up his sleeve, as the All Blacks look to bounce back from the disappointment of Japan 2019.

But with no rugby on the cards in the immediate future, it leaves one wondering what kind of captain Cane will be?

Making his debut in 2012, Cane has played under two of the All Blacks' all-time great captains, Richie McCaw and Kieran Read, both of whom had their own styles of leadership that their predecessor can take some serious lessons from as he steps into the role.

And while they both hold incredible standing within both New Zealand and World Rugby, McCaw and Read's contrasting leadership styles should pave the way for the captain that Cane will be.

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The All Blacks teammates had a bit of fun while fronting media. Source: 1 NEWS

First McCaw, who might not have been the greatest communicator outside of the All Blacks' dressing room, was molded in the "lead by example" style of captaincy.

The first real rule of leadership is that you shouldn't ask anyone to do something that you wouldn't be prepared to do yourself - McCaw fits that box to a tee, playing the climatic stages of the 2011 Rugby World Cup with a broken foot. Unable to train and playing on through excruciating pain, McCaw rallied his teammates around him to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy for the first time since 1987.

While Cane may have not played in that 2011 side, he was fortunate enough to learn from McCaw, both as a player and as a leader, for an entire World Cup cycle through to the end of 2015, and will undoubtedly bring those lessons into the role.

On the other side of the coin sits Kieran Read. While Read is similar to McCaw in that he gets the best out of others by the own high standards he sets himself, his leadership can be interpreted to have taken more of an inspire others through what he says, not what he does.

Read's leadership didn't just extend to the All Blacks either, famously helping the Warriors with how they managed themselves in-game to start the 2018 NRL season.

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The All Blacks' flanker was unsure if he'd ever play again, and will now take the field in a RWC semi-final. Source: 1 NEWS

Cane has already proven himself to be a more than capable leader with the Chiefs, his return from a broken neck in 2019 coinciding with the side make an incredible run to the Super Rugby playoffs, despite at one point having been bottom of the New Zealand conference in his absence.

If Cane can be half as good a leader as McCaw or Read, then the All Blacks' stewardship would almost certainly be in safe hands.

All Blacks of the past have spoken about the pain of the 2007 World Cup quarter-final exit paved the way for victories in both 2011 and 2015. As the new captain, Cane will be at the helm of the All Blacks' first real crack at global redemption in France 2023.

However, it's important to also note the All Blacks' captaincy is a job where Cane will be forced to learn as he goes, despite having learned from two of the best to ever pull on the black jersey.

But make no mistake, he won't be the next Richie McCaw. He won't be the next Kieran Read.

He'll be the first Sam Cane.