Sam Whitelock impressed by 'confident' new All Black Josh Lord
Josh Lord isn’t losing any sleep over a potential All Blacks debut this weekend, at least according to his considerably more senior teammate Sam Whitelock.
With only four locks in the squad and Brodie Retallick shouldering a heavy workload to date, Lord is likely to wear the No 19 jersey against the Eagles this weekend, unless the All Blacks opt to give Shannon Frizell a run in the second row.
Only seven months ago, Lord was making his first appearance for the Chiefs – lining up against the experienced Crusaders pairing of Whitelock and fellow All Black Scott Barrett.
It’s been a rapid rise for the youngster, but one that he’s evidently been taking in his stride, if Whitelock’s words are anything go by.
The international trip hasn’t fazed Lord, however, with Whitelock suggesting the man 13 years his junior has quickly acclimatised to the US timezone.
“It’s been really good getting to know him but I would say he hasn’t actually missed a beat with the sleep,” Whitelock said on Tuesday. “We landed here, he fell asleep straight away, slept all the way through the night and he’s done the same for the last couple of days so he’s definitely fitting in well.”
Whitelock, who stepped into the All Blacks’ captaincy role in the formative stages of the year with Cane unavailable through injury, also praised Lord’s understated professionalism.
“He’s confident without being too pushy and you can just see him absorbing all the information because there has been quite a lot thrown at him but he’s taken that in his stride and I’m sure he’s just like the rest of us, wanting to plum into some work tomorrow.”
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While the rest of the All Blacks have just undertaken an intense five-week campaign in Australia, the five men who have only linked up with the squad recently are relatively fresh and still in the honeymoon stages of the trip.
Whitelock is confident that the energy of the new group will bring out the best in the rest of the squad, with young Lord leading the charge.
“There’s five new guys that have come over that have been away for a certain amount of time… Obviously, Josh has come in, his excitement levels are through the roof. He hasn’t expressed it verbally but you can see it in his body language and a couple of the older boys [have] come back in too so I think it’s great for the group at the moment,” Whitelock said.
“We’ve been here a couple of days so we’re not probably as tired through the jetlag as they are so they’re probably feeding off our energy at the moment but you can tell everyone wants to get out there and play, everyone wants to have that opportunity to play here in the States against USA which is something that doesn’t happen very often and it is a privilege whenever it does happen so everyone is keen to get out there and play their part.”
New Zealand last squared off with the USA in 2014 where they scored a convincing 74-6 victory in Chicago. Sunday’s match in Washington will likely see the All Blacks field a relatively strong side – although the likes of Whitelock, Cane and Coles will all be returning to the fold after a handy break.
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