Thursday, May 7, 2020
Port of Tauranga Operations Supervisor Dean Jennings wasn’t surprised when Sam Cane was announced as the new All Blacks captain.
Sam who lived in Reporoa and was attending Reporoa High School came and stayed with Dean for his last year of secondary school at Tauranga Boys’ College.
“Without the benefit of hindsight, he was destined to be an All Black. He was very talented, but what was so good about him was, he had a really good work ethic. He was very coachable; he would listen to people and he would take note. It was quite unusual for a kid of that age.”
Dean had help to set up a pre-academy for young rugby talent in the Bay.
“It was to try and keep them around and not bugger off elsewhere. At that time, it was Sam and Carl Axtens, they were both outstanding players."
“They had come through the Chiefs secondary schools programme and then all the schools around the country were starting to chase the two of them. So, the only way we could keep them here, was to get them to come and live with me.”
Dean says Sam’s upbringing had a lot to do with his success.
“He was very modest and I always thought of him as having old school values, a real country boy attitude. He would rather be outside than sitting inside playing a bloody PlayStation.”
Sam’s work ethic is another quality that will serve him well in the captaincy role Dean says.
“He was always a hard trainer. He was always fit, strong and trained hard. He was destined to be an All Black and it was not surprising to me to hear him named captain. He has always had the talent and the want to be a great All Black.”
Former Black Ferns Captain Les Elder says “purely through his actions on the field, Sam has shown he is a worthy leader. However, in addition to that, I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a couple of things off the field where he shows he is deserving of the captaincy.”
"It's an honour and a privileged responsibility when you are named to lead your national side. I have no doubt Sam will do a great job and have the backing of his teammates."
Sam who has played 19 games for the Steamers, has already captain the All Blacks in three tests; against Namibia at the 2015, Rugby World Cup winning 58-14, against Italy in 2016, beating them 65-10 and last year beating Argentina 26-16.
The first Steamer to captain the All Blacks was Graeme Crossman. He captained the side four times in non-test matches. Twice on a tour of Australia in 1974, and twice in South Africa in 1976.