A desire to ease Kieran Read’s workload has thrust Crusaders lock Sam Whitelock into the captaincy role for their next Super Rugby campaign.
Coach Scott Robertson says All Blacks skipper Read needs to “enjoy” playing and that can be achieved by lightening the leadership load in 2017.
Experienced All Blacks lock Whitelock, 28, was captain during the opening weeks this year while Read was rested.
He is equipped to fill the role full-time in a move which Robertson believes will provide some zest for 31-year-old Read, who will lead New Zealand in the mid-year Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
“Kieran has been an excellent captain, he is a courageous leader who the players admire and love,” Robertson said.
“But this will allow Kieran to focus on just playing and enjoying himself in the Crusaders environment, rather than juggling the responsibility of being both All Blacks and Crusaders captain.
“It will also allow Sam to really take ownership of this position and influence the team in his own way.”
Whitelock, a 83-Test veteran, described his new role as a privilege.
“It is a big responsibility to continue the excellent leadership that this team has always had, but I am fortunate that there is a lot of experience and leadership already in this group.”