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Cane soaking up McCaw's knowledge ahead of debut

Published: 10:30AM Thursday June 14, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

Chiefs flanker Sam Cane has yet to pull on his All Blacks jersey, but he's already had a small taste of the Test environment.

Cane (20) has been selected on the bench for this week's second encounter with Ireland, the only newcomer to this level named in Christchurch today.

In his first season of Super Rugby, his rise has been meteoric as the All Blacks coaching staff search for an understudy and eventual successor to captain and veteran openside Richie McCaw.

"It's a big week," he admits. "I'm pretty excited. Once I got named in the 30, my goal was to get in the [playing] 22.

"That's happened this week, so if I get out there, it'll be a very special moment."

The entire All Blacks squad got to warm up together on Eden Park for the first Test last Saturday, an experience that helped prepare the rookie for international rugby.

"That gets the adrenalin pumping," he admits. "That was an awesome feeling in itself.

"Then we went up into the stands and the boys played well, so it was good to watch."

Like the other debutants in this group, Cane has been soaking up as much knowledge as he can from the old heads around him - in his case, that's McCaw himself.

Instead of feeling the pressure of being the potential next All Blacks number seven, a position New Zealand rugby invariably blossoms in, Cane is soaking up as much knowledge as he can from his captain.

"The things I'm learning are just subtle little tips in the game such as running lines and defence lines - just small adjustments. I'm just trying to pick up things all the time.

"I listen to what [McCaw] is talking about in conversations. It's been awesome."

Cane expects plenty of support from friends and family this weekend. He's had to buy extra tickets to accommodate those travelling south to see his big moment, should it arrive.