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'Bit shy': Ex-skipper's surprising reason for backing 'world class' Crusader over Ardie Savea as ABs captain

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Former New Zealand skipper Kieran Read has backed Scott Barrett ahead of Ardie Savea to succeed Sam Cane as captain under Scott Robertson.

Cane has opted out of the job, although he will remain in contention to be picked for this season before a permanent move to Japan.

Read said Crusaders great Barrett has an edge over Savea, who is in Japan this season, due to the latter’s personality.

“I know in the past, Ardie has probably been a bit shy from it, it doesn’t sit on his shoulders as well as a few others have,” Read told Newstalk ZB. “It’s an interesting call.

“Experience helps too, having those times when you have captained. He’s someone who’s obviously not been in New Zealand this year. I don’t know if that counts against him or not.

“The experience is there, definitely at the top level.”

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Read thought Savea would still be a suitable choice for the gig, but added Barrett’s relationship with Robertson could also give him a significant edge.

Ardie Savea of New Zealand celebrates victory at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Justin Setterfield - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

Ardie Savea of New Zealand celebrates victory at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Quarter Final match between Ireland and New Zealand at Stade de France on October 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Justin Setterfield – World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“It’s a tough one, both have great attributes,” Read said. “Scooter’s [Barrett] done it for a while with the Crusaders and been pretty successful.

“Ardie, I think, in terms of his ability to inspire and get players to follow him is pretty impressive in the All Blacks jersey.

“There’s a couple of pretty awesome options… It’s a hard call, I think potentially Scott Barrett if I’m thinking of someone, because of where he’s at.

“He’s led a lot of teams, and the relationship with Razor probably leans it to him.

“But Ardie would be fantastic, right? He’s an amazing player and a great leader in his own way.”

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Barrett was captain for three of Robertson’s seven Super Rugby title wins.

“Knowing Scooter, what he’s like, and what he’s going to bring to the team, it’s an advantage for those two guys to work together,” Read said.

“Scooter’s a world-class player, he’s going to be starting every game, that’s a prerequisite as well.

“Maybe Barrett does have the inside edge. The captain is one guy, but it’s the guys around him like Ardie and the others that will make his job easier, whoever it is.”

Robertson has revealed he has had discussions with the potential next captain, but won’t be revealing who he has in mind until after the Super Rugby season finishes.

“There’s been conversations that have been had,” he told reporters. “And discussions, with players. Yes, there has been. That’s all I can say.

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“It will be announced when we name the team. (We need) someone the players will follow. Lead on the field. They have to start. They have to be world-class in their position and someone the players respect.”

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