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Excited Sam Cane back to captain All Blacks against Uruguay

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Sam Cane said he was excited to be back captaining New Zealand from the start as head coach Ian Foster on Tuesday made nine changes to his side to face Uruguay at the Rugby World Cup.

Cane, who came off the bench against Italy last week on his return from a back injury, is one of five changes in the pack with Sam Whitelock restored to the starting line-up for his 150th All Blacks appearance.

“I’m very ready, I’m very excited. It’s been a bit of a road bump for me personally the start of this World Cup,” said Cane, who missed New Zealand’s first two Pool A matches against France and Namibia.

“I spoke after the (last) game about how it had been a little bit frustrating. I’m just really excited and grateful to be back and looking forward to training this arvo (afternoon) and testing things out under a little bit of heat from the boys.

“Then I’ll feel a lot more confident heading into the game, so I can’t wait.”

Tyrel Lomax replaces Nepo Laulala at tighthead, Tupou Vaa’i comes into the second row and Luke Jacobson will pack down at No.8.

Vaa’i couldn’t hide his excitement at being picked to play in the second row alongside Whitelock, who will break the record for most World Cup Test appearances with 23, surpassing the marks of compatriot Richie McCaw and England’s Jason Leonard.

“It’s definitely special. He’s definitely a special man of this team and the way he upholds himself and the way he leads,” said Vaa’i.

“He’s a genuine guy. He hates talking about him, he makes (it) more about the team but it’s special for him and his family, the first guy to win 150 caps for the All Blacks.

“I’ve got so much respect for him and heaps of love.”

‘A couple of tweaks’

Lock Scott Barrett drops to the bench while backrowers Ardie Savea and Dalton Papali’i, second row Brodie Retallick and prop Laulala miss out altogether on the matchday 23.

In the backs, Cam Roigard will start at scrum-half instead of Aaron Smith, and Anton Lienert-Brown is picked at outside centre over Rieko Ioane.

Leicester Fainga’anuku gets the nod at left wing over Mark Telea, and Damian McKenzie comes in at full-back, with Beauden Barrett dropping to the bench.

The only players to keep their places are loosehead Ofa Tu’ungafasi, hooker Cody Taylor, flanker Shannon Frizell, fly-half Richie Mo’unga, inside centre Jordie Barrett and right wing Will Jordan.

“We’ve made a couple of tweaks as some guys we felt maybe didn’t need a hit out,” said Foster.

“They can still be in really great shape because of that. I think when you look at the team there’s a lot of continuity in many aspects.

“To bring the likes of Sam (Cane), Tyrel (Lomax), Jordie (Barrett), (to) keep their progress coming back (from injury).

“Sam Whitelock coming back. A lot of those changes I think have got us into a really strong position for this game.”

New Zealand head into their first ever meeting against Los Teros in fine form following last week’s 14-try 96-17 demolition of Italy.

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The All Blacks need to win the game with a bonus point to ensure qualification for the quarter-finals.

Despite losing their opening game to France, they could yet top Pool A if Italy beat the hosts on Friday.

Team:

Damian McKenzie; Will Jordan, Anton Lienert-Brown, Jordie Barrett, Leicester Fainga’anuku; Richie Mo’unga, Cam Roigard; Luke Jacobson, Sam Cane (capt), Shannon Frizell; Tupou Vaa’i, Sam Whitelock; Tyrel Lomax, Codie Taylor, Ofa Tu’ungafasi

Replacements: Samisoni Taukei’aho, Tamaiti Williams, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett, Ethan Blackadder, Finlay Christie, Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke

AFP

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