Sam Whitelock will captain New Zealand for their end-of-season Test matches, including their meeting with Ireland on 13 November.

The Crusaders second row will assume the captaincy duties from Ardie Savea who filled in during the Rugby Championship.

Despite regular skipper Sam Cane returning to the squad following a long-term pectoral injury, the flanker is being allowed concentrate on regaining his match fitness.

However, forwards coach John Plumtree says the Chiefs back row will resume the captaincy duties next season.

"Absolutely. He's been named Ian Foster's captain and nothing has changed in that space," the former Ireland assistant coach said.

"He's just come back off a massive injury so we need to give him time to come right before having the responsibility of leading the All Blacks."

With 127 Test caps, Whitelock is by far and away the most experienced played in the New Zealand squad, who arrived in Washington DC this week ahead of their meeting with the USA on Saturday, the first of five games in five weeks.

After their meeting with the USA, they travel to Wales and Italy before they take on Ireland on 13 November in Dublin, capping off their season with a game against France in Paris.

Whitelock missed their Rugby Championship exploits in Australia to be with his wife who gave birth to their third child, with complications around quarantining meaning he never joined up with the squad.

Plumtree says his experience sees him get the captaincy nod over Savea, allowing Cane concentrate on playing.

"Ardie has been recognised for the great job he did in Australia and winning the Rugby Championship. His style of leadership was fantastic, but it's also great to have Sam come in with his experience. We think it's good for the team now that Sam takes over.

"We've got Sam Cane here as well but we feel he just needs to get his game right. He's been out for a long time and the added captaincy burden wouldn't be a good thing for him right now."

"Knowing Sam he will want to start and play 80 minutes of every test."

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