VIDEO: Whitelock puts Highlanders on notice
SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: The Crusaders are happy to unleash veteran All Black Sam Whitelock on the Highlanders in a much-anticipated South Island derby on Saturday.
The 30-year-old, 108-times capped All Black has not played for more than three months – partly due his mandatory rest period and partly to allow several niggles to heal.
Whitelock, by his own admission, He has taken it out on his teammates in training.
Now he will unleash his pent-up energy on the Highlanders at the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Saturday.
The lock said he has spent that last working hard in the gym, getting his body in the best shape possible.
“I’m sure a couple of the boys will be happy I’m not being held back another week, because I’ve been a little bit niggly at training and they’ll be excited for me to just tone it down a little bit,” Whitelock told a media briefing in Christchurch.
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Whitelock, who called himself a “horrific” spectator, is one of eight players set to start against the Highlanders who were not in the run-on team which smashed the Chiefs in Christchurch last week.
It will also be Owen Franks’ 150th game for the Crusaders (149th Super Rugby game) and he will lead the side out in Dunedin.
Whitelock said the Highlanders’ forward pack will pose a serious challenge to the Crusaders, especially in front of the Zoo – the West Stand area, popular with the students.
“They have a very good forward pack,” the All Black said, adding: “It is always a massive challenge.
“For us as a pack it is even a bigger week, with Owie [Owen Franks] playing his 150th game.
“We are going out there to put on a performance for him.”
He will start at lock alongside Scott Barrett, arguably the form player of the competition through the first month, as the competition front-runners target a record-extending 20th win on the bounce.
“My groin was the major injury, trying to get that right took a lot of time.
“But the best thing is I had the time to take, rather than trying to rush back and only getting it half right,” Whitelock added.