Rugby: Ardie Savea named All Blacks captain for Rugby Championship

Forward Ardie Savea has been appointed captain of the All Blacks during their tour to Australia for the Rugby Championship.

The 52-test international will fill the void left by Sam Whitelock, who has decided to remain in New Zealand for the imminent birth of his child

Whitelock had replaced regular skipper Sam Cane, who has been sidelined since the early stages of Super Rugby with a pectoral injury. 

Savea will lead the team until Whitelock rejoins the squad, which is expected to be before they depart on the US and European legs of their mammoth four-month tour.

Lock Brodie Retallick and first-five Beauden Barrett will share vice captaincy duties.

Savea says he is still a little in shock at getting the call-up to skipper the squad.

"I just got a text from Foz and I thought I was in trouble," Savea said.

"I was stressing out wondering what have I done? I searched the media to see if I'd done anything, but he just sat me down and mentioned it to me.

"I was literally shaking."

"I'm still in awe. It's a team that you dream of as a kid and being able to lead is amazing. I'm lost for words and really grateful," he said.

"Just to be named in a team was a goal that seemed so far away, but everything happens for a reason and I'm just going to embrace it.

"I'm nervous but I'm excited as well, and I know I've got great leaders around me that I can lean on."

Speaking for the first time as All Blacks captain, Savea got a little choked up when talking about how much this moment means to his family.

"To be able to lead such a team it's out of this world when I think about it and to be able to tell mum and dad was huge.

"Two people that migrated from Samoa to create a better life for their kids - sorry I'm getting a bit emotional - to be here for them is pretty special."

And expect Savea to lead the same way he plays - front foot forward and aggressive.

"A big thing is just being myself and leading the way I usually lead, which is just trying to do it through actions.

"I'm not a quiet dude but I usually go about things in a quiet way, so I won't change much."

The All Blacks resume their delayed Rugby Championship campaign with the third and final Bledisloe test against Australia in Perth next Sunday, before travelling to Queensland to take on the Pumas and Springboks in two tests apiece.

Upon the completion of the Rugby Championship, the team will head to Chicago for a test against USA, then make their way across the Atlantic Ocean for their annual European tour, which includes tests against Wales, Italy, Ireland, and France. 

First-five Richie Mo'unga and halfback Aaron Smith have also stayed in New Zealand to attend the birth of their children and are expected to reunite with the team before they head to Europe.

Join us from 6pm, next Sunday (NZ time) for live updates of the All Blacks v Australia