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All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock has lauded the big engines of his Wallaby counterparts, as he prepares to enter the record books when he runs out against Australia this weekend.
The 29-year-old Crusaders star will tonight become the first All Black lock to reach the 100-cap mark and only the eighth New Zealander in any position to attain that milestone.
Whitelock and the returning Brodie Rettalick will form a formidable lock combination, which will test Australia in the opening Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship match at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has stuck with the same second row pairing he used in the June series against Ireland, starting with Adam Coleman and Izack Rodda and with the more experienced Rob Simmons named on the bench.
"They’ve got a good balance. Rob and I have played a lot of games against each other," Whitelock said.
"But the guys that have come in, they have really brought that work ethic, that energy and they are really bouncing off it.
Whitelock’s milestone will provide more motivation for an All Black side looking to hold the Bledisloe for a 16th straight season.
"Sammy’s 100 will be one the boys I’m sure will put in a bit of extra effort for," centre Ryan Crotty said.
Whitelock, who made his test debut in 2010, stressed the All Blacks would have no trouble getting up for tonight despite their long-term domination of Australia.
"They are the neighbour, they are across the ditch and it’s Bledisloe Cup," Whitelock said.
"It’s very very special for us at any stage playing for the All Blacks, but playing against an Aussie has that extra little motivation in there and I think you can feel that this week within the environment that the boys are up for it.
"I think if you look back to the three test matches last year it was tight.
"They probably had the upper hand on us for the proportion of those games, so there’s a lot of motivation in the side at the moment."
He was flattered by the comment from All Black team-mate TJ Perenara that he hated playing against Whitelock in domestic rugby.
"I think that’s the biggest compliment you can get," Whitelock said.
All Blacks v Wallabies
Sydney, tonight, 9.45pm
All Blacks: Ben Smith, Waisake Naholo, Jack Goodhue, Ryan Crotty, Rieko Ioane, Beauden Barrett, Aaron Smith, Kieran Read (captain), Sam Cane, Liam Squire, Sam Whitelock, Brodie Retallick, Owen Franks, Codie Taylor, Joe Moody.
Reserves: Nathan Harris, Karl Tu’inukuafe, Ofa Tuungafasi, Scott Barrett, Ardie Savea, TJ Perenara, Damian McKenzie, Anton Lienert-Brown.
Wallabies: Israel Folau, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Kurtley Beale, Marika Koroibete, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, David Pocock, Michael Hooper (captain), Lukhan Tui, Adam Coleman, Izack Rodda, Sekope Kepu, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Tom Robertson.
Reserves: Tolu Latu, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Rob Simmons, Pete Samu, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Jack Maddocks.
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)