Ardie Savea (left), Beauden Barrett and Shannon Frizell (right) of the All Blacks.
New Zealand head coach Ian Foster said on Monday back-rower Ardie Savea will remain as the All Blacks’ captain despite Sam Cane returning from injury for their end-of-year tour.
Cane, 29, replaced Kieran Read as skipper after the 2019 Rugby World Cup but has been out since March with a pectoral injury.
The All Blacks play the USA on October 23, before heading to Wales for a Test a week later.
They then face Italy on November 6 before taking on Ireland and France on successive Saturdays in November.
“At the moment, we’re going to stay with the status quo,” Foster said in a statement.
“Ardie will carry on leading this team in the short-term future but then once we get to Washington and Wales, we’ll make some assessments about where the other guys are, then we’ll let people know.”
Flanker Cane, who succeeded two-time World Cup winner Richie McCaw in the No. 7 shirt, said he would feature in a third-tier club game on Saturday.
“It’s been a long six months but the body is ready to play some rugby again,” he tweeted.
“Really looking forward to linking up with the mighty King Country Rams this weekend in the Heartland Championship.”
Earlier, Foster said locks Scott Barrett and Patrick Tuipulotu will sit out the upcoming tour, with Chiefs rookie Josh Lord called up to bolster the squad.
Barrett and Tuipulotu were heading back to New Zealand for family reasons, opening a spot for Lord, an uncapped 20-year-old who has played just five games for the Chiefs.
“He’s very athletic and we see this as an opportunity to grow a young player of the future,” Foster said.
“He’s got the physical attributes and it’s a chance to get him on this tour and start working with him.”
On Saturday they lost a thriller to South Africa on Australia’s Gold Coast but had already won the Rugby Championship.