Ardie Savea to take over All Blacks captaincy
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WELLINGTON, New Zealand - Ardie Savea's "different" style of leadership earned him the All Blacks captaincy Saturday, as he was named to lead the side for the first time against Australia next weekend.
Veterans Brodie Retallick and Beauden Barrett were named as Savea's vice-captains for their remaining five matches in the Rugby Championship, the All Blacks announced on social media ahead of the Wallabies clash in Perth.
Regular skipper Sam Cane is injured and unlikely to rejoin the team before their end-of-year northern tour while Sam Whitelock and Aaron Smith, who have already captained the side this year, did not travel to Australia, with their wives due to give birth soon.
Coach Ian Foster said he considered a number of strong candidates to take over the leadership before opting for the 52-Test Wellington Hurricanes captain.
"It's a changing time and we've gone with a changing strategy," he told Radio Newstalk ZB.
"I love that he has a very different style of leadership. He's very empathetic, he's got a great affinity right across the group and reads the group well from a family and emotional side, and I think that's a really important quality to have in the situation we're in."
Savea, 27, the younger brother of former All Blacks wing Julian Savea, first toured with the side in 2013 as a "non-playing apprentice" and played the first of his 52 Tests three years later against Wales.
The powerful loose forward was seen as a strong, silent type but has since developed into one of the team's vocal leaders.
"Over the last few years he's really started to grow into an influence role in terms of looking at ways we can actually use his voice and his behaviour to impact this team, and I think he's done a really good job of it," Foster said.
"Secondly, we're really starting to see his form at the level we know he can play at. He's a growing man in the environment and I'm delighted. I think he's got a great feel for the team and it will be a great learning curve for him too."