MELBOURNE (Reuters) – New Zealand captain Sam Cane is poised to play his first test of the season when the All Blacks meet the United States in Washington, D.C. next week, coach Ian Foster said.
Cane has been sidelined since March with a torn pectoral muscle and other complications but eased back into competition with a provincial match last week in New Zealand.
Foster said Cane was ready to step up for the game against the ‘Eagles’ on Oct. 23 in Washington, along with fit-again hooker Dane Coles, who suffered a calf strain in July.
“We’ve already flagged that for the likes of Sam Cane and Dane, who have been out for a while with injury, this will be an ideal game to get them back in there,” Foster told reporters on Friday.
In Cane’s absence, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick and Ardie Savea led the side through their victorious Rugby Championship campaign.
After Washington, the All Blacks head to Britain to take on Wales on Oct. 30 before finishing the season with November tests against Italy, Ireland and France.
Foster said he would look to use players who were employed sparingly in the recent Rugby Championship against the Eagles.
“We’ll be putting some guys who have had limited game-time into the USA game, and there are a couple of positions we’ll be putting guys in who have got a good chance to play their way potentially into Welsh selection,” he said.
“We’re using it in many ways — to give game-time to some and grow their experience but also putting the heat on some areas of our game we feel we need to keep growing and look at some wider options.”
(Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)