All Blacks veteran Sam Whitelock will earn his 148th test cap this weekend against Namibia that will put him level with the great Richie McCaw as the most capped All Black of all time, and the equal second highest in international rugby.
Coach Ian Foster says it’s a massive occasion for Whitelock, and to equal someone like McCaw in test matches for the All Blacks is a massive achievement.
He says they all know how much it means for him to put on a black jersey, and to do it for the 148th time is a very special occasion.
Foster has made 9 changes starting off with a new pairing in the halves of Cam Roigard and Damian McKenzie while Ardie Savea will captain the team for a second straight time at this World Cup as Sam Cane continues to deal with his back problem.
Savea say Whitelock has been around for a long time, since the likes of McCaw and Kieran Read and the way Whitelock is able to relate to everyone and try and understand other people and other cultures is something he looks up to.
Foster says he wants to see the 42-test McKenzie, in his World Cup debut, run the game the way they want to play and felt he was very clear about what they want to achieve.
Regular starters Ethan de Groot, Scott Barrett, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga and Rieko Ioane are all on the bench for this match.
Caleb Clarke and Leicester Fainga’anuku form a power wing tandem, David Havili will partner Anton Lienert-Brown in midfield, and Luke Jacobson gets a shot at No 6, Whitelock is joined in the second row by a fit-again Brodie Retallick as the pair extend their world record starting combination to 66 tests and Ofa Tuungafasi and Samisoni Taukei’aho slot into the front row.
The All Blacks will face Namibia at 7am Saturday.
All Blacks: Beauden Barrett, Caleb Clarke, Anton Lienert-Brown, David Havili, Leicester Fainga’anuku, Damian McKenzie, Cam Roigard; Ardie Savea (capt), Dalton Papalii, Luke Jacobson, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Nepo Laulala, Samison Taukei’aho, Ofa Tuungafasi.
Reserves: Dane Coles, Ethan de Groot, Fletcher Newell, Scott Barrett, Tupou Vaa’i, Aaron Smith, Richie Mo’unga, Rieko Ioane.
Source: NZ Herald
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