Cane has 95 caps for New Zealand

All Black captain Sam Cane is set to retire from international rugby at the end of 2024.

Cane has been offered a three-year deal with Suntory Goliath, who he is currently playing for on sabbatical. The skipper will return to New Zealand as planned after the end of the current Japanese season. He will then head back to Japan in 2025.

Read more: Cane red card

Cane has 95 caps for the All Blacks, 27 as captain, and he won the 2015 Rugby World Cup in his time with the team. He captained New Zealand at the 2023 RWC where they reached the final. Cane was given a red card in the game where they lost to South Africa.

He said on his decision: “I had to weigh up everything and, in the end, with a young family it seemed like the best decision to help set up our future. It was a very hard one because I love the teams that I represent here in New Zealand.

“We obviously love this country, we love being around friends and family but we ultimately made the decision to sign with Suntory, which we’re really excited about. We have enjoyed our first year there and we just thought it was the best thing for our young family.”

New Zealand have several matches this year that Cane could still be involved in. The team have a summer Test series against England and the Rugby Championship to contest.

Cane says he would be honoured to play for the team again if selected. He also added he wants to make it a smooth transition for the team, who will now have to select a new captain come the new year or if Cane is not selected.

A prime contender for the skipper role would be Ardie Savea. He has taken on the duties when Cane was not on the field before. Other contenders would be the likes of Jordie Barrett and Damian McKenzie.

“It’s part of the natural process that happens in rugby. I had my time as captain and it was a huge honour and privilege,” Cane said.

“If I’m fortunate enough to be selected in the All Blacks this year then I’ll still be myself. I love that team and I just want to see the All Blacks do well, so if part of my role is contributing leadership off the field or on the field, I’ll be happy to support the new captain as best as I can to help make it a smooth transition for the All Blacks.

“I’m really grateful for the time that I had to wear the captain’s armband. It was a huge honour and privilege – a lot of lessons out of it and growth.”

All Blacks coach Scott Robertson added: “After discussing this at length with Sam, I fully understand the reasons behind his decision and support him.

“The position he plays asks a lot of you mentally and physically – both of those things ramp up when you are captain. So to do what he’s done over such a long period is an incredible feat. I fully respect him taking this opportunity.”

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