One of the Sams is going to end up as the next captain of the All Blacks. And it has to be Cane not Whitelock if the All Blacks are going to bounce back to the top of the global game.
Whitelock would be a good captain. He would lead the team well. But he would be the conservative choice and ultimately, probably, the wrong choice.
He'd be a short-term fix that would eventually come to be a problem for the All Blacks towards the end of the World Cup cycle.
The new All Blacks coach needs to be bold, see beyond this year and be prepared to invest in the long term and see that Cane comes with the higher probability of being an automatic selection for the duration of the next World Cup cycle.
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That's the key to the decision: who is going to go the distance and be a genuine starter for the next four years?
At 27, Cane's career trajectory appears to still have significant upward momentum. He's morphed into this damaging tackling force with an under-appreciated ability to snaffle a few critical turnovers per game.
It's a role that isn't reliant on out and out pace and as such as he gets older and develops more experience, he'll become more influential.
Looking four years down the track, it's possible to believe Cane will be a better player than he is now.
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It's easy to see the upside in his game and whether he wears number seven or number six, it hardly matters – the point to be sure of is that Cane is going to be able to demand inclusion in the All Blacks' loose trio for the next four years.
The question of whether he's captaincy material has already been answered. He's led the All Blacks twice – a job he was asked to do because he brings an intensity of purpose that tends to inspire those around him.
He's bright, he's focused, he's driven, he's articulate and he's fearless. He commands the respect of his peers and if you ask the players who the most instrumental figure was in lifting them to play Wales in the bronze medal match at the World Cup after being eliminated by England, they would all say Cane.
He's always demanded something from those around him from his earliest days as an All Black, but since he broke his neck last year, that has intensified.
He knows he nearly lost everything in South Africa in 2018, that his career was on the line while he waited to hear from the medics whether there was lasting damage.
He plays now with a sense of gratitude that makes him more powerful than he's ever been and as much as anything else, he's a gut instinct choice.
Whitelock, on the other hand, doesn't hold the same longevity of appeal.
The future isn't shrouded in mystery as far as the All Blacks locking stocks go. By 2022 the All Blacks are most likely going to be facing a scenario where they have three world-class locks and no certainty about which two to pick each week.
And that's the issue with making Whitelock captain – gaze into the crystal ball and it is not clear whether he will be a definite starter after this year.
Brodie Retallick will be back from Japan in 2021 and presumably available for the All Blacks from July.
There is no guarantee, but two club seasons in Japan and a genuine break between the two, should see him restored to somewhere close to his physical peak.
He's suffered a horrible last two years with injury and if ever there was a man who needed some time to rebuild and regenerate, it is Retallick.
He needs a system reboot which will hopefully happen in Japan and see him come back to New Zealand a different sort of athlete – one with his energy restored and body rebuilt to the point where he can consistently produce the sort of rugby that his reputation is built on.
Then there is Scott Barrett, who is the volatile element in this future-gazing as based on his current development, he is going to reach the point where he demands inclusion in the starting team.
He almost got there in Japan and the decision to play him at blindside in the semifinal was evidence of the selectors' belief they wanted him on the park from the start but not at the expense of either of the two senior locks.
Give Barrett another two seasons and Whitelock may no longer be an automatic choice and the last thing the All Blacks need is to be compromised by having to pick their captain when he isn't necessarily deserving of his spot.
Plenty of teams have found themselves there in the past and it hasn't worked well for them. England had to eventually drop Dylan Hartley in the last World Cup cycle and South Africa got into a real pickle with John Smit in 2011, asking him to play prop so they could find a way to keep him in the team.
Whitelock, given his undoubted class and work rate, may prove unmovable from the starting team in the next few years, but why take that risk? Why make him the captain when there is a real prospect of the All Blacks having to work him, Retallick and Barrett in a three-way rotation in the last two years of the World Cup cycle?
But the new coach coming in is going to be drawn to Whitelock. It's hard to look past experience in the role and that will be especially true next year when a new management team are going to be feeling their way into the international game.
A conservative mindset will be easy to adopt – go with Whitelock, he knows what he's doing in a year when a relatively young and inexperienced All Blacks side will be trying to find itself and build a new identity.
There would be sense in that, particularly as Whitelock can tick all the other boxes. He's a world class player and has been since 2013.
He's got more than 100 caps, commands global respect from other teams and is a big enough name with the sort of reputation that will afford him the chance to build rapport with referees.
And next year the All Blacks will be without Retallick, so the while business of selection will be automatic and unchallenged. The future could easily be ignored next year – the coaches instead taking a wait and see approach in regard to Retallick's return and Barrett's development.
That wouldn't be wise, though. Whitelock will turn 35 at the next World Cup and why that in itself doesn't preclude him from being captain, common sense says that he could have played 170 tests by then and just may not have the dynamism that the All Blacks need.
To make him captain now would be storing problems for later and the braver decision would be to go with Cane as captain and ask Whitelock to be by his side – a wise old head, providing sage advice and invaluable input.