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All Black legend leaves international game a winner

By AAP
Sam Whitelock collects his silver medal after the Rugby World Cup final. Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Former All Blacks skipper Sam Whitelock has signed off his career in fitting style, leading the Barbarians to a 45-32 win over Fiji in a thrilling clash at Twickenham.

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The 35-year-old forward, twice a World Cup winner with New Zealand, received a rousing round of applause from all corners of the stadium in southwest London as he left the field late on.

Whitelock gave an assured performance at lock alongside England international David Ribbans against a free-flowing Fiji team coach by Australian Mick Byrne.

The impressive Fijians were led by a hat-trick from Epeli Momo, who plays in Super Rugby Pacific with the Drua, but fell short in a breathless encounter.

Former England winger Jonny May scored twice for the Barbarians, whose other tries came from Lachlan Boshier (two), Chay Fihaki, Zach Mercer and New Zealand international Leicester Fainga’anuku.

Also included for the Barbarians were Gold Coast-born Jack Cornelsen – the son of 1970s and 1980s Wallaby Greg Cornelsen – who represents Japan at international level, and former Wallabies prop Scott Sio.

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The star-studded Baa-Baas – coached by ex-Wallabies mentor Robbie Deans – were pushed hard by Fiji, with Momo’s three tries added to by Kemueli Valentini’s 10 points and seven more from five-eighth Caleb Muntz.

Watch the exclusive reveal-all episode of Walk the Talk with Ardie Savea as he chats to Jim Hamilton about the RWC 2023 experience, life in Japan, playing for the All Blacks and what the future holds. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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Graham 25 days ago

What a way for Crusaders and All Black great Sam Whitelock to bow out. Off the field, a really good man and on it a man who oozes leadership and dominance. I believe our greatest ever lock. Good luck for the next chapter Sam . Sure it will go well.

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finn 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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