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A source has told the Otago Daily Times that Cane could be replaced as captain on Friday by veteran lock Sam Whitelock for the two-test series in South Africa.
It follows the All Blacks’ dismal run of recent form that culminated in the home series loss to Ireland.
Cane, who has played 80 tests and been captain in 13 of them, will presumably keep his place in the squad as a loose forward, though he may lose his starting jersey.
But there is speculation New Zealand Rugby, acknowledging something has to be done to shake up a misfiring team, possibly no longer believes he is the right choice as captain.
Whitelock, a guaranteed starter when fit, would have the experience and mana needed for the role if Cane loses the captaincy.
In further playing changes, it is tipped Crusaders No 8 Cullen Grace and Highlanders prop Ethan de Groot will be added to the squad for the South African trip.
New Zealand Rugby was expected to announce a Rugby Championship squad yesterday, but that was delayed as the urgent review into the team’s recent failings took priority.
It is now believed the squad will be named on Friday.
There have been widespread calls for a shake-up of the coaching team but it appears Ian Foster will stay as head coach.
He will have Joe Schmidt alongside him in an elevated role.
It is understood that will involve Foster retaining the top job but Schmidt being promoted into a director of rugby-type role to address the All Blacks’ malaise.