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Whitelock touches down for Pau hoping to find positives in RWC final defeat

By Rugby365
Samuel Whitelock and Ardie Savea of New Zealand enter the field of play following the half time interval during the Rugby World Cup France 2023 Pool A match between France and New Zealand at Stade de France on September 08, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Ramos - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

New Zealand second row forward Sam Whitelock said he hopes to find a positive side to last month’s World Cup Final loss, after arriving at French Top 14 club Pau on a two-year deal.

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Whitelock played the last of his 153 Tests, an All Black record, in last month’s one-point (11-12) loss to South Africa in the World Cup Final.

He failed to become the first player to win the tournament on three times having won the Webb Ellis Cup in 2011 and four years later.

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“I don’t think any player that goes so close ever gets over it but you learn that you can’t change history,” Whitelock told reporters during his presentation as a Pau player.

“Hopefully I can take what I experienced and put a good spin on it at some stages,” the former Crusaders forward added.

As is often the case after a World Cup, a host of All Blacks players have chosen to leave New Zealand for lucrative contracts abroad.

The majority this time around, including captain Sam Cane, World Rugby Player of the Year Ardie Savea and first-choice halfbacks Aaron Smith and Richie Mo’unga, have signed deals in Japan.

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From this year’s World Cup vintage, only 35-year-old Whitelock, wing Leicester Fainga’anuku and prop Nepo Laulala have agreed to move to France and its gruelling 10-month season.

“It’s a different way of life coming to France,” the bearded Whitelock said, having moved over with his wife and three children.

“We’ve gone from winter to winter, we’ll try and sneak away to some warmth at some stage.

“I’m looking forward to experiencing different things,” the former Panasonic Wild Knights lock added.

In France, Whitelock will be captained by his sibling and eight-time All Black Luke Whitelock, who turns 33 in January having been at Pau since 2019.

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“My little brother Luke has been sowing seeds, dropping hints, for the last three, four years,” Sam Whitelock said.

“There’s been a bit of cheek in the family, asking if I am going to listen to him if tells me what do?

“We’ll have to wait and see if that’s true,” he jokingly added.

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The older Whitelock joins a Pau side flying high in the Top 14 in second place having been involved in the relegation scrap since their most recent promotion in 2016.

Their last French top-flight title came in 1964.

Whitelock is not expected to make his debut until at least December 16’s Challenge Cup game with Welsh region the Dragons.

“The club’s been doing outstanding so if anything it’s increased the pressure,” the 2.02m (6.6ft) tall Whitelock said.

“I have to come here and perform.

“I have to add to the momentum that has been started,” he added.

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Red and White Dynamight 3 hours ago
Duhan van der Merwe hat-trick sinks sloppy England to win Calcutta Cup

Up the Jocks ! a great team effort and 4 victories v on the bounce v their greatest rivals for those north of Hadrians. But, of course, before the celebrations survive the first pint of McEwans, it seems for some this Calcutta Cup match was merely 1 man v 15. What exactly is it about Sth Africans that make them such insufferable bores ? you rarely see Kiwis claiming Ireland victories (incl 3 x NZers) or Aussies for that matter (X1). You never see Samoans claiming France/England victories (Tuilagis). Or Fijians claim All Black victories. Scotland have had some great Kiwi-born players (S.Lineen/B.Laney/J.Leslie) - no surprise given their heritage - but they supported them as their ‘2nd team’. If anything they applaud their countrymen for taking opportunities and bettering themselves as professionals and, hopefully, competing on the World stage too. It takes some stratospheric level of stupid to ignore the opaque boundaries and qualifications that now allow Japan to be competitive, Portugal to win a RWC game, Argentinians to play for Italy, New Zealanders to dominate Tongan and Samoan teams - and not celebrate that World Rugby is more competitive and better for it. Everywhere on social media, even when the post has zero to do with Sth Africans (schoolboy rugby being the most obvious barrel-scraping eg - these are KIDS), they pile in and try to claim the “we are better/stronger/faster” with such voluminous levels of obnoxious bile, that it poisons the mere celebration of the sport itself. These are not ‘rugby fans’ that can marvel at the Game they Play in Heaven, but rather some misplaced insecure-fuelled poison that they need to extract from deep inside their psyche. Its hard to understand the exact reason for the massive chip on their shoulders and their desperation for the victimhood/noone-loves-us-we-dont-care, but it seems accelerated with their LOTTO Cup 1-pt wins, like gasoline on the fire. Obsessed with ‘cheating’ refs and ‘cheating’ opposition (Rassies video bloopers during Lions tour; McCaw’s whole career) and celebrating their own thuggery (#JUSTICE4 the dirtiest player in pro-rugby history), when luck suddenly goes their way (1995 Final vs an acutely comprimised ABs; Kilosi<->Cane cards in 2023 Final) or their players escape adequate penalty (Etzebeth 1-handed non-intercepts; Kolbe illegal chargedown; Etzebeth cynically retreating in the AB backline) so obviously that its clearly been coached, then suddenly its AOK as long its SA that benefit directly from it. The schizophrenic nature of Sth Africans presents them as good company in person - and lets face it, theyre EVERYWHERE now and cant get out of their own country fast enough - but as anonymous keyboard ninjas their true nature shines out as one beset with a dark undercurrent of toxic self-absorption. It appears that the bravado appears only under the protection of anonymity, a cowardice of insufferable reverse-flagellation to make themselves feel proud when the mirror stares back at them. Give yourselves a long slow clap. Well done to the entire Scotland team including all those born south of Hadrians Wall. Playing a fantastic fast pace of fluid ball-in-hands rugby that seems almost foreign to other teams. Och aye the noo.

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