Positional switch played down

Luke Whitelock
Luke Whitelock
Are the long arms of the national selectors getting involved in the movements of Luke Whitelock?

Whitelock will start his fourth straight game on the blindside flank for the Highlanders when they take on the Lions tonight.

Whitelock (28) is usually a No8. He has played a game or two at lock for the Highlanders but No8 has been his position of preference.

He injured his calf last month and was out for one week but since returning against the Sunwolves on April 26 has just played in the No6 jersey. Elliot Dixon was playing well at No8 so it would have been hard to let Whitelock walk straight back into his preferred role.

This week Dixon is having a week off and logic would suggest Whitelock would come back on to the back of the scrum.

Instead, Shannon Frizell will start at No8 and Whitelock stays at blindside flank.

Highlanders coach Aaron Mauger played down the switch of Whitelock, saying the roles were interchangeable between No8 and blindside and Whitelock was going well on the side of the scrum.

With no-one putting their hand up to play on the blindside for the All Blacks, and incumbent Liam Squire off the field because of personal issues, are the powers that be - the All Black selectors - simply wanting to have a look at how Whitelock performs on the blindside flank?

They could do worse than the man who is set to play for Pau in the French Top 14 next season. Whitelock is a top defender, takes the ball well to the line and is a good lineout forward.

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