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'It's never just one person': Whitelock says players take responsibility for the All Blacks results

By Ned Lester
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

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The All Blacks most capped current player has implied his support for head coach Ian Foster, although the sentiments he shared were not as direct the reimbursement given by fellow All Black leaders Ardie Savea and Sam Cane.

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Following a much improved performance in Johannesburg, Sam Whitelock expressed relief and satisfaction at the result and the progress of his team.

When questioned on how he might contribute to NZR’s review of the performances under current coaching, Whitelock replied: “We’re always looking to get better.”

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“That’s always been the focus, and it will always be. I think if we ever lose sight of that then it’ll be a slippery slope.”

Emphasizing that progressive mentality extends beyond the playing group, Whitelock added that every single All Blacks squad member has the same responsibility.

“And that’s right across the board, so it doesn’t matter what role you have in this environment, you’re always looking to get better,” he said.

“That’s the same if you’re a head coach or Fletcher Newell being the latest All Black.”

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The players have been quick to share accountability when asked about the pressure their head coach is facing, which Whitelock again reiterated.

“It’s actually on all of us, it’s never just one person,” he said.

The big lock put in a performance that “wound back the clock” according to ex-Crusaders teammate Bryn Hall, who along with ex-Blues hooker and fellow Aotearoa Rugby Pod host James Parsons, awarded the All Blacks centurion player of the round.

While commending his performance, Hall reported how Whitelock had been assisting captain Sam Cane with the leadership duties over a rough couple of weeks for the squad.

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“I guess being able to do that, in a leadership sense, to then put in the performance he did on the weekend,” Hall said.

Leading by example is an impressive feat for the 33 year old veteran, who’s workrate remains immense despite often being the oldest on the pitch.

The legacy of New Zealand’s most capped lock continues to grow as a result.

“You look at great All Blacks and the legendary status… It’s in those kind of test matches where you put your name up against that,” he said.

“He was that, and everything on the weekend, influencing the game in so many parts.”

Whether or not Sam Whitelock’s continued excellence has helped retain his head coach’s position is yet to be seen.

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