An English rugby commentator has called for the All Black selectors to sack captain Sam Cane.
Writing in The Times, Stuart Barnes said the No 7 "may be a fine leader of rugby players but he is not good enough to play for the All Blacks".
Barnes said All Black No 8 Ardie Savea would do a better job as openside flanker than Cane, and claimed that Cane "makes his share of tackles but none of them are destructive" — a claim that would seem to ignore the All Black captain's monster hit on Tadhg Furlong in the 32nd minute of Saturday's test against Ireland.
The former England flyhalf said Hurricanes skipper Savea was "one of the best back-row forwards in the world" and saluted the No 8's ball handling, his lineout work and his "powerful, surging runs".
The Herald's player ratings gave the Cane 6/10, noting the hit on Furlong, and awarded Savea 8/10 for his two-try effort.
Barnes, whose playing career peaked when he captained a midweek Lions team that were beaten 29-17 by Hawke's Bay in 1993, said Cane had missed a tackle on midfielder Garry Ringrose that put Ireland in a scoring position.
"Savea, 28, would not have missed that tackle," he opined.
"Cane, 30, doesn't shift a ruck, nor does he pressurise the ball-carrier with the sort of breathtaking hit he himself suffered at the shoulders of Ringrose earlier in the match."
All Black No 8 Ardie Savea starred in Saturday night's test against Ireland at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
Barnes reckoned that the All Black skipper compared unfavourably with the man leading the current World Champions.
"Against the Springbok captain, Siya Kolisi, Cane would struggle to compete."
"On the evidence of [Saturday's] game, if New Zealand are to find their best back-row blend before next year's World Cup, the hard call has to be made, with Cane relegated to the bench or jettisoned completely."
The Englishman who once played for Wales schoolboys team said: "Cane may be New Zealand's unsung hero. The trouble is, there is simply not enough to sing about."
All Black coach Ian Foster praised Cane's efforts after the Ireland win: "The work of Sam Cane and our leaders this week was phenomenal."