WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Sam Whitelock would have “loved” to have been given the chance to skipper the All Blacks again but the 117-test veteran says he will do everything he can to help Sam Cane in the role after the loose forward was handed the arm band by new coach Ian Foster.

Whitelock, who has led the side six times, had been expected to succeed Kieran Read after the number eight retired from tests following last year’s World Cup but Foster opted for Cane, 28, as his new captain earlier this month.

“I would have loved to have had the opportunity,” Whitelock told reporters on a conference call on Friday. “I’ve had a bit of a taste of it in previous years and I would have liked to have had (another) go.

“But I know how much goes into it and that you don’t need the captain’s arm band to help people out and make a difference and Sam is going to need all the help and support he can get.

“I’m keen to help him out where I can.”

Whitelock has returned to New Zealand to rejoin the Canterbury Crusaders after his playing sabbatical with the Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan was cut short when the competition was cancelled due to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

While the Super Rugby season was postponed in mid-March after seven weeks of matches, the five New Zealand sides will play a 10-week domestic competition starting on June 13.

“It is going to be challenging … there are going to be some sore bodies and some big clashes,” the 31-year-old lock said of the competition.

“But I think that’s what the public want. … they want to be entertained and I think that is what everyone is after.”

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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