Clinical and ruthless. That’s the message from All Blacks captain Sam Whitelock to his team as they look to end their season with a rebounding victory over France.
With the increased pressure following last week’s loss to Ireland combined with a desire to sign 2021 in style, Whitelock has felt a noticeable increase in intensity in training this week and has nothing to complain about the preparation of the All Blacks for the test on Sunday morning (New Zealand time). in Paris.
As Ireland deprived the Kiwis of possession on their way to a 29-20 victory, forcing the tourists to put up a ton of defense, Whitelock felt guilty for not making the most of their chances in the rare occasions when they have had a quality ball. .
This is something the skipper is eager to rectify at Stade de France, which he says will go a long way in avoiding a repeat of last week’s result.
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“I think we had the opportunity to score tries (against Ireland) and we did it to a point, but at the same time we have to take every opportunity that is given to us,” said Whitelock said. “If we can do that, all of a sudden the possession stats will hopefully be a little over 50-50.
“I’ve never worried about wanting to defend boys, but it’s easier when you push through your own all-time absorbing play verse and that’s what Ireland made us do.
“It’s one thing that we have to make sure that we don’t have [against France]. “
Whitelock is waiting Blues to try and take a sheet of Ireland’s playbook mixed with the more familiar aspects of French style.
But he also feels that there is an element of the unknown, the two teams meeting for the first time in three years, and the first time in Paris since 2017.
“They play a different style than every other team we’ve played with so far,” said the 131 lock.
“They have chosen a big, strong team and I think they are going to play traditional French with a lot of mauls and a lot of scrum… and I hope we can match that French flair that comes from their set piece.
“I think that’s what makes this match so exciting, we don’t really know what the France team is like because we haven’t played each other for a few years.”
New Zealand coach Ian Foster responded to the Dublin defeat by making seven changes to the racing team, including recalling former skipper Sam Cane for his second start of the year in a No.7 jersey.
Cane returning from a campaign interrupted by injury, it was decided at the start of the northern tour that Whitelock would take over as captain for the remainder of the season.
But leading the All Blacks has always been a team effort, Whitelock said, and he relishes the opportunity to play alongside Cane.
“It’s great to have ‘Cano’ back on the starting squad this week,” he said.
“It’s something that really helps me. Obviously Sam is a very experienced player and has his own leadership ability, which is good for me to bounce ideas off and just have another one. senior voice is really good.
“It’s something I’ve always said, it’s never one person to lead this team, it’s a number of people and Sam is one of those key guys.
“It just goes to show that sometimes people don’t understand how far people lead, whether they start, come off the bench or not even in the 23rd.”
The teams will play for the Dave Gallaher Trophy on Sunday and the All Blacks will wear their alternate white jerseys with a poppy on the sleeve to honor the captain of the “Originals” 1905-06 and 12 other All Blacks who were killed in World War I.
“We understand the history of it and it’s something we don’t take lightly,” added Whitelock.
“Every All Black jersey is special, but a white jersey with a poppy makes it a little more special because it doesn’t happen very often.”