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‘Made a long-term decision’: Ian Foster provides injury update on Sam Whitelock

By Finn Morton
Sam Whitelock of the All Blacks looks on during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Mt Smart Stadium on June 30, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Coach Ian Foster has revealed that veteran Sam Whitelock was “available for selection” this week, but the All Blacks have decided to err on the side of caution.


Whitelock was sidelined for a significant period during Super Rugby Pacific, and was in doubt for last month’s decider against the Chiefs in Hamilton.

But the 143-Test veteran decided to play, and ended up finishing his time at the Crusaders as a champion following his Player of the Match performance in the final.

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All seemed good with the rugby world – but Whitelock wasn’t out of the woods just yet.

Whitelock wasn’t at 100 per cent during his first week with the All Blacks in Auckland, but travelled with the team to Argentina.

The Test centurion was “glued” to the physio in South Africa – as Ian Foster put it during the week – but was ruled out of the clash with Los Pumas due to the persistent Achilles injury.

Whitelock will miss his second consecutive Test this week, but coach Ian Foster has confirmed that the legendary second-rower could’ve played against fierce rivals South Africa.

“Sam Whitelock, he’s available for selection based on where his body is at, but we’ve made a decision,” Foster told reporters in Auckland.



“By not playing him this week, we actually give him an extra week after that. It just gives us a chance to have a decent block of recovery.

“He would be available to play but we made a long-term decision rather than a medical decision on that one.”

The All Blacks have named a talented second-row duo in Whitelock’s absence though, with Brodie Retallick set to return alongside in-form utility Scott Barrett.

But there’s no denying Whitelock’s experience, pedigree, or importance to this team.

“It’s never easy is it. He’s progressed well, he trained pretty well full-on last week, had a little bit of a setback near the end of the week but he’s good as gold,” Foster


“But he’s probably still got a little bit to go from where we think he can get to.

“Very tempting but we just made a decision for the bigger picture, by giving him this week (off)… he then has another week next week and then he should be ready.”

Foster also confirmed that Emoni Narawa, who made a try-scoring debut for the All Blacks in Mendoza, was unavailable with a back injury.

Leicester Fainga’anuku has also been ruled out with a calf injury, and the All Blacks coach wasn’t “sure of his ETA.”

“Emoni, his back seized up the day after the game so he’s really stiff and hasn’t trained all week. Don’t know how bad it is, he’s moving around now, but he’s unavailable.

“Leicester joined us on Monday when we got here. His calf, he’s still only on a slow jog so not sure of his ETA but that’s where he’s at.

The All Blacks take on fierce rivals South Africa at 7.05 pm NZST on Saturday evening at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium.

Following that match, the Wallabies host Pumas across the ditch in Sydney.


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Bob Marler 335 days ago

I’d also be poop scared of further injury this coming weekend.

MitchO 336 days ago

Whitelock can drop inas required. He’s knows everything and everyone knows him. Much better to give lord and vaii matchtime. There’s no way Sam Brodie and Scott can be the big three all those games

Jan 336 days ago

Whitelock should never have played in the super final- whose glory his or razors?

William 336 days ago

He was told by the selectors not to play and He made that choice .So one eyed supporters trying to join dots, what's more important club or country

Damian 336 days ago

Mmmm, why does this feel like a punishment for playing the super final and destroying the beloved Chiefs. Surely Fozzy is too professional for that kind a nonsense. I'm probably just joining dots that aren't even there.

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