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The acid is on Sam Whitelock as one of a number of senior All Blacks charged with lifting their performance levels to salvage the Bledisloe Cup, not to mention some much-needed World Cup momentum. Not that you’d know it.
If the 30-year-old, 110-test lock was feeling the pressure in Auckland this week, he did a decent job of disguising it during his media appearance on Tuesday.
The bearded second-rower shapes as a key figure in a promised physical response from the All Blacks forwards in Saturday’s climactic, and sold-out, Bledisloe Cup decider against the Wallabies at Eden Park. By their own admission they were short of the mark in last Saturday’s record 47-26 defeat to the Aussies in Perth, and have vowed to bring the intent this week.
What’s more Whitelock will have his third starting second-row partner in as many tests, after Scott Barrett copped a three-week suspension for his red card in Perth, following the dislocated shoulder suffered by Brodie Retallick against the Boks in Wellington.
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That leaves a lot on the Cantab’s shoulders in the tight, especially with a front row also struggling to assert itself.
But the veteran lock, not renowned for his humorous take on life, presented a relaxed side when paired with returning midfielder Sonny Bill Williams at Tuesday’s media window. Whitelock sat idly by as a succession of questions were lobbed his team-mate’s way around his potential recall to starting
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