Rugby: Departing All Blacks captain Sam Canes denies World Cup disappointment contributed to international retirement

Departing All Blacks captain Sam Cane insists the disappointment last year's Rugby World Cup in France has played little part in his decision to step away from the national team this year.

Cane, 32, has accepted a three-year contract with Japanese club Suntory Sungoliath, effectively making him unavailable for New Zealand under current eligibility rules.

He will return from his current sabbatical to contend for his No.7 jersey under new coach Scott Robertson, but concedes he is unlikely to retain his captaincy. 

Sam Cane serves his red card at the Rugby World Cup final.
Sam Cane serves his red card at the Rugby World Cup final. Photo credit: Getty Images

Cane has told The Rock Morning Rumble radio show the 12-11 final loss to South Africa at Paris was not a factor in his impending international retirement. The skipper became the first player red-carded in a World Cup final, after he was initially yellow-carded for a high tackle  and then upgraded.

"I wouldn't say it has... I don't think so," he said. "In my head, it hasn't really come into the decisionmaking.

"No doubt last year took a lot out of me, emotionally and mentally probably.

"This break over here - although the last couple of months I've been rehabbing - they've been good, and I'm hugely motivated to come back and still be available for selection.

"Even though it's my last year, I feel like I've still got a lot to offer the group, particularly knowing so many senior All Blacks have moved on. I believe I've got a bit to add there, not just off the field, but hopefully on it."

Cane admits the pain of losing that World Cup final - and particularly his own personal regret over the circumstances - was considerably eased by the team's reception back home.

"From years of what we'd experienced from the NZ public... a lot of that comes with the expectation and pressure of being an All Black, and a lot of that external pressure drives us as well, to be fair," he said.

"We were heartbroken, really gutted to be 1-2 points away from achieving something pretty special, given the circumstances. Then to come home to that response, we were really proud - it certainly helped with the healing process.

"Even the response at the airport... we didn't expect anyone to be there, but there were people with signs. It made us feel quite prouod of what we'd been able to achieve, even though, in our minds, we had failed."