Gallaher Cup - New Zealand v France
Cane out to make his mark against France
June 15, 2013
Sam Cane has big boots to fill for the All Blacks © Getty Images
The youngest player on the field will carry more responsibility than most when the All Blacks chase improvements in the second Test against France.
Flanker Sam Cane, 21, has a key role for a New Zealand side shaded at the breakdown in the 23-13 first Test win in Auckland.
Forecast wet conditions in Christchurch on Saturday should promote another fierce duel in the loose forwards.
French flanker Thierry Dusautoir and hulking No. 8 Louis Picamoles were menaces at Eden Park.
By contrast, Cane faced pockets of post-match criticism that he isn't equipped to match the impact of the man he has replaced for this series - open-side great Richie McCaw.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen says singling out Cane is unfair. He says the All Blacks' ball-carriers, rather than support players, were to blame for turned-over possession in Auckland.
"Sam had a really difficult job at the breakdown because of it," Hansen said. "He's played five Tests. He got 80 minutes of physicality that he's not used to. I'd expect him to grow and improve his performance."
France captain Dusautoir had no doubt New Zealand will be out to nullify the visitors' marauding work at the tackle and rated Cane as a "player for the future" after marking him for the first time.
The All Blacks are chasing a 25th successive win at home and their 13th in a row in Christchurch dating back to a loss to Australia in 1998.