Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Cane: All Blacks on brink of 'unbelievable' record

All Blacks loose forward Sam Cane has been out of the game for six weeks due to his torn hamstring, but if anything the time on the sidelines has given him a new appreciation of what his side are achieving.

In his absence the All Blacks have put big scores on South Africa (twice), and Argentina, a continuation of their Rugby Championship form during which they won every game by a bonus point.

"It's obviously tough to be watching when things are going well because you think 'jeez, I'd like to be part of that', but also when you sit back and watch it from a spectators' point of view, you can enjoy it and think 'wow, they doing awesome'," said Cane, who suffered the injury against Argentina at Waikato Stadium.

"It's a lot different, I got up and watched the test against South Africa for the first time in six years or so... it was cool to see it from the couch. It gives you a bit more of an appreciation of things."

Ardie Savea and Matt Todd have been given opportunities in Cane's absence, and either one - probably Savea - is likely to start against the Wallabies at Eden Park on Saturday.
For Cane, a crucial part of the team following Richie McCaw's retirement, the test is likely to come a few days too early in his recovery.

"The day after I tore my hamstring we looked at six weeks, which is this weekend," Cane said. "In terms of whether I'm starting or on the bench or even playing at tall, it will depend a lot on how I get through the rest of the week and obviously the coaches. I'm happy because I've know I've done everything I can to give myself a good shot."

Cane was on the reserves bench in the test in Sydney two years ago when the Wallabies stopped the All Blacks' winning streak at 17 with a 12-12 draw, and clearly the record means a lot to him and his teammates.

"There have been close to 5000 test matches played by tier one nations in history," he said. "To think that no team in that time has won 18 on the trot is pretty unbelievable. We realise that we've only given ourselves an opportunity by getting to this stage. If we start worrying about the outcome or result too early it will trip us up."

- NZ Herald

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