All Black insists that the Bledisloe Cup is ‘different’ ahead of Melbourne Test

Sam Whitelock NZ v Australia RC 2022 - PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Sam Whitelock NZ v Australia RC 2022 – PA.jpg Credit: Alamy

Veteran All Black lock Sam Whitelock insists that the Bledisloe Cup is a whole new challenge for the side as they gear up to face fierce rivals the Wallabies this weekend in Melbourne.

Whitelock has been on the sidelines with injury whilst his teammates have put together two stunning performances against Los Pumas and the Springboks in back-to-back weeks.

Big challenge

The attention turns to the Wallabies now, who have had a poor start under head coach Eddie Jones. However, the lock knows that the veteran coach will get the best out of the team sooner or later.

A focal point since Jones’ return is increased physicality that has seen Will Skelton return to the Test fold, a player Whitelock faced earlier in his career.

“It’s always hard the first time you play any team, and this will be our first go against Australia. They’ve got some different guys. Will Skelton is back. I played against Will early on in both our careers. He will add a different element to their game, so it’s just understanding what his strengths are,” Whitelock told the All Blacks Official Website.

Whitelock insists that a reset is required as form coming into the Bledisloe Cup means little, and he expects a tough challenge in several ways.

“We’re on a high at the moment, but we’ve got to reset properly because playing Australia in Melbourne in a Bledisloe Cup is different to a normal game. We’ve got to make sure that we improve.

“Every game I’ve played against Australia has been challenging in different ways, whether that’s physical, whether it’s challenging you through fitness because it’s a wide-to-wide game and both teams are playing expansively or that it’s a challenge because it’s a mental game.”

Second-row development

Whilst Whitelock has been on the sideline the quality of Scott Barrett, Brodie Retallick, Tupou Vaa’i and Josh lord have been on show. He understands how well the other players have done and is embracing competition.

“We’ve all been around long enough to know five doesn’t get into two, but that’s good.

“It’s a good sign for us as players, as a forward pack and as a team. A lock is one of those positions where there’s some heat, which is great.

“You can look at a number of positions. If we asked everyone in the room who your starting XV is, everyone has a different opinion, but that’s a good thing; it means there’s a competitive edge in the squad, and you’ve got to perform because, if you don’t, someone is there ready to go.

“I’m in a really good spot. I was cleared to play the last game but just not selected. I got through the full training week and have been in and around the team, so hopefully, the selection goes my way.

“I’ve been taking every chance to put the injury behind me and get stronger.”

The great second-row underlined that he is eager to get back on the field and insists he is still hungry as ever for the game.

“If the hunger changed whether I was starting or not playing, you’d be a little concerned around what your motivations are. My hunger is exactly the same as it always is – I want to get out there and play good rugby for myself and also to help the team.”

READ MORE: Veteran All Black returns from suspension but may have to wait his turn

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