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Hurricanes share hilarious praise and pain of playing Sam Whitelock

By Ned Lester
Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

After 350 first-class rugby appearances, Sam Whitelock has left his mark on a fair few athletes, both local and international. His demeanour always remains composed and thoughtful, but that doesn’t stop the lock from getting under his opponent’s skin.


Hurricanes flanker Duplessis Kirifi was full of praise for the 143-cap veteran in an interview with former Highlanders lock Joey Wheeler this week, but also revealed what it’s like to face off against the Crusaders legend.

Wheeler asked which player Kirifi would like to see join him in a Hurricanes jersey, and after some thought, Kirifi arrived at an answer.

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“We’ve always had a lot of flair,” he told Wheeler for Sky Sport. “A little bit of razzle dazzle, so maybe like a real – not sure what position – but like a big, hard-working, head down, bum up forward. Yeah, like a Sam Whitelock.”

Wheeler went on to reflect on his time playing against Whitelock and clearly had some unresolved frustration towards the two-time world champion: “He used to always pull my headgear down over my eyes” he laughed.

Kirifi’s experience playing against the Crusaders proved Whitelock’s gamesmanship persists today, laughing about how the lock gets away with it and always keeps it within the 80 minutes.

“Niggly person to play against,” Kirifi grinned. “People don’t know, he’s an undercover grub and then he walks up to you after the game and he’s like ‘great game brother’ and you’re like ‘I’m going to get you next time’.”



Hurricanes and All Blacks hooker Asafo Aumua also answered the initial question of who he’d like to play alongside, offering a more straightforward answer: “Karl Tuinukuafe; he just loves his food, so do I.”

Both Kirifi and Aumua have spent time in the All Blacks camp, both have a number of more experienced players ahead of them in the pecking order of their respective positions. But, with Scott Robertson assuming the reigns in 2024, a fresh opportunity at selection for the next era of All Blacks rugby is on the horizon.

“This is an offside question bro!” Kirifi laughed when quizzed on his chances at cracking the national setup in 2024.

“It’s well above my pay grade, but I hope he does well for New Zealand because they represent all of us at the end of the day.”



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