Sam Cane's remarkable return from a devastating injury was capped off with news that the 28-year old Chiefs captain will be the next All Blacks captain, and he may just be the first Waikato man to do it.
He might have been born and raised in the Bay of Plenty, but new All Blacks captain Sam Cane is very much a Hamiltonian these days.
For such a strong rugby province, the wider Waikato region has never produced a regular All Blacks skipper. There have been coaches, most notably John Mitchell and now Ian Foster, but never a full-time captain.
Cane is the first full-time All Blacks captain to have played all his Super Rugby at the Chiefs, a big win for the Hamilton-based club, which was established in 1996 at the beginning of professionalism.
Cane rose to stardom playing for the Chiefs, playing a big part in their back-to-back title run in 2012/13. Ironically, that success came at a time when Ian Foster, the man who offered Cane the All Blacks captaincy over a chat earlier this year, had just departed from being Chiefs head coach after a reasonably disastrous stint results-wise through the mid 2000s.
Current Chiefs coach Warren Gatland, a man who has worked closely with Cane this year, says that the respect Cane has earned will make him the perfect All Blacks captain.
"It is an honour to captain the All Blacks and one we know Sam will do well at. He is a valued leader and holds a great amount of respect from his peers both on and off the field and we expect he will be a great All Blacks captain," Gatland said.
Cane and his wife Harriet recently built a new home on the outskirts of Hamilton, making the most of their new surroundings during Covid-19 lockdowns which have seen the Super Rugby season suspended and any certainty on when rugby will return up in the air.
Speaking on Sky Sport's The Breakdown show during Tuesday's announcement, Cane said that regular meetings are still taking place within the All Blacks camp so that the ball is rolling when, or if, the team can play this year.
"There are still plenty of places to be leading in rugby at the moment.
"Off the field it's about us as players ticking along and training.
"We've had one All Blacks leadership meeting to get things rolling and we will have another in a month because usually around this time you'd be preparing for the first campaign," Cane said.
A big win for the Chiefs, but an even bigger win for rugby in the Waikato and wider Chiefs region.
This man, the new All Blacks captain, is one of their own.
■ Michael Pulman is a Hamilton-based freelance reporter. Follow him on Twitter: @realmikepulman
Correction: In the Waikato News print version of this story an incorrect photo was published. We apologise for this which was due to an archiving error.