Sam Whitelock hails Thorn, Jack, Ross
November 13, 2013
New Zealand's Sam Whitelock is happy to gift the spotlight to Dan Carter © Getty Images
All Blacks to have won 50 caps, by position
Sam Whitelock is happy to accept his Test rugby milestone plays second fiddle to a team-mate this weekend.
Whitelock will play his 50th Test when he takes the field against England at Twickenham on Saturday, a mark he has raced to in less than four seasons, but his milestone will be overshadowed as Dan Carter contests Test No.100. Whitelock says the celebrated fly-half deserves the inevitable attention this week, describing his presence as compelling and enormously influential at both Test and Super Rugby level with the Crusaders.
"Obviously he's got all the skills to be a great 10," Whitelock said of Carter. "There's some things he does in a game that you don't expect to happen and he manages to pull them off."
Whitelock's Test career began with the first of nine successive apperances off the replacements bench, against Ireland at New Plymouth in 2010, before making his starting debut against England at Twickenham later that year. "When I first came in as injury cover, I was told I'd be around for 2-3 days and I kind of didn't really leave," he said.
The Test retirement of Rugby World Cup partner Brad Thorn has seen Whitelock assume the unofficial title as the All Blacks' first-choice lock.
He credited Thorn as a major influence early in his professional career, along with two other Canterbury and Crusaders team-mates who played Test rugby - Chris Jack and Isaac Ross. "That's three great guys to try to take their strengths out and put them into my own game, and take note of their weaknesses."
Whitelock will become the 44th All Blacks player to chalk up a half-century of Tests, and the ninth in the current tour squad.
His milestone also will see lock join loose forward as the most prolific position of All Blacks to have reached 50 caps, with eight each.
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