Super Rugby: Sam Cane, Brodie Retallick named 2019 Chiefs co-captains

All Blacks Sam Cane and Brodie Retallick have been named Chiefs co-captains for their 2019 Super Rugby campaign, even though Cane will be out until May, recovering from a neck fracture.

"[Retallick] was a pretty easy choice, because of his experience, being with the way he leads this team anyway in the past," said coach Colin Cooper.

"He just drives the performance that we want on the field and off the field, so it was a pretty easy fit to announce Brodie to co-captain with Sam Cane."

But Cooper admitted he would have to dip even deeper into his leadership unit, whenever Retallick was required to sit out games through All Blacks rest protocols. The giant lock also missed several weeks of Super Rugby last year with a pectoral muscle tear.

"He won't be there very game, but we've got a really good group of leaders, so one of those fellas will fill that void, when Brodie's not here."

That group includes fellow All Black Damian McKenzie, former international Brad Weber, Lachlan Boshier and Michael Allardyce.

Cane hurt his neck at a breakdown during the All Blacks vs South Africa test at Pretoria last October and was sidelined for their subsequent northern tour. 

"He'll have a lot of imput as co-captain," said Cooper. "He'll be able to do all the stuff off the field that captains are responsible for, like media.

"Brodie's a quietly spoken man, but he doesn't need to say too much and the team will follow."

All New Zealand's Super Rugby teams will kick off their pre-season schedules this weekend, with the Chiefs taking on the Blues in Kaikohe on Saturday.

"Last year, we had a number of shoulder/neck/concussion injuries," observed Cooper. "We've changed our training, and had a few more collisions and contacts during December, building into these trial games.

"We're trying to get all the players battle-hardened - that's the research and information we got from last year's injuries.

"A lot of injuries are back luck. You can't do too much about breaks, but with our concussions, and niggles with necks and shoulders, we thought we'd be a bit smarter in the collision area."

This won't be their first encounter with their northern neighbours this season, after conducting a 'live' training run against the Blues last week.

"They're excited," said Cooper. "I think they're sick of training, because they've been training for a long time."

The Chiefs open their season against the Highlanders in Hamilton on February 15.


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