All Blacks legend Richie McCaw has backed his former team-mate Sam Whitelock to take over New Zealand captaincy in the absence of regular skipper Sam Cane.
Cane, who took over the captaincy from Kieran Read is currently on the sidelines between four-to-six months due to pectoral injury that he sustained in March.
With New Zealand set to face Tonga and Fiji in the July series, McCaw, who led the All Blacks to 2011 and 2015 World Cup titles threw his weight behind Whitelock for taking over the reins.
The 32-year-old was also among the top candidates to take over the job post the 2019 World Cup but the responsibility was eventually handed over to Cane, who led to Rugby Championship title last year. Whitelock has played 122 Tests for New Zealand since his debut in 2010 and has featured in 19 World Cup games spread across the 2011, 2015 and 2019 editions.
The 6ft 8in lock has been part of Crusaders since 2010 and has gone on to win three Super Rugby titles and also had a brief stint with Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights which was disrupted by the pandemic coroanvirus.
“I don’t want to be saying too much, and there’s obviously a few candidates, but there’s no doubt ... Sam Whitelock, who has done it before, has done a good job over the years,” McCaw told Stuff.
“There’s other guys as well, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he's the man to do the job.
“I think he just leads by example and people want to follow him. He fronts up every week.”
New Zealand will open their July series campaign with a clash against Tonga on 3rd July at Mount Smart Stadium before facing Fiji in a two-Test series on 10th and 17th July at Forsyth Barr Stadium and FMG Stadium respectively.