Alphabetical indexing means Sam Whitelock and Ali
Williams are paired together in the All Black handbook.
Curiously their weight and height stats match, at 2.02m and
116.5kg, and while Whitelock has played 40 tests fewer than
Williams' 77 internationals, he is now the side's senior
At just 24, Whitelock has the verve of youth and elastic
athleticism Williams once had.
There is no room for both of them against Wales this weekend
with Whitelock likely to have the power of Luke Romano beside
him at the Millennium Stadium on Sunday.
It won't be the only change in the pack with Andrew Hore
shifting into hooker as Keven Mealamu gets over a calf muscle
problem he suffered against Italy.
And while there have been some bumpy patches for halfback
Aaron Smith in his past two tests against the Wallabies and
Italy, the All Blacks' determination to push on with their
high-tempo game may keep him in the side.
Whitelock's selection is a given. He has put on 9kg since his
test debut but retains the spring and power for his core
duties, while scooting around the field.
He is still young for a test lock but thinks he is robust
enough now to take on a bigger workload in the All Blacks
"It is great playing that expansive style. It is a style we
played at school and I think it suits a lot of the tight
forwards' game," he said.
"As long as you are fit and healthy it can go really well and
you have to make sure you are ready to go and ready to work
"It is fun to express yourself."
There were locks all round the international rugby world who
provided great competition. It was important to gauge
yourself and always respect your foes.
"Without that you get into trouble and people, no matter
where they are in their career, if they take someone lightly
they come unstuck and learn a few lessons that way."
Whitelock received a reminder about the standards he needed
to keep reproducing when he was benched for the test against
the Pumas in Wellington.
When he was benched, he appreciated the feedback and reasons.
It was the coaches' task to get the most out of the players
in their squad and how they achieved that was up to them.
- By Wynne Gray of the New Zealand Herald