All Blacks ready to meet 'old foe'
Thu, 13 Sep 2012 6:42p.m.
By Jim Kayes
Only four of the starting XV ran out when South Africa and the All Blacks last met in Port Elizabeth last year - when most of the senior All Blacks were rested.
Sam Whitelock did play in that match - which the All Blacks lost - and on Saturday night, in his 32nd test and sixth against South Africa, he wants to justify his reselection after being dropped last week.
“When I was younger I was running with the ball and exploding on to things, I just want to go back to doing that a little bit more and make sure I'm doing that,” says Whitelock.
And Piri Weepu will make his first start this year on Saturday.
“Everyone wants to be a part of the starting lineup, you've got to do the hard work to get the opportunity - this is my chance so obviously I will be trying to make the most of it on Saturday night,” says Weepu.
Weepu's experience will be important; he'll be playing his 15th test against the 'Boks, while Aaron Cruden will face them for just the second time - his first wearing 10.
It's a dream come true for a lad who used to love watching these tests from the safety of his couch.
“With a cup of milo and my old man and brothers watching the footy and that was pretty exciting and I knew then and there I wanted to be a part of something like that,” says Cruden.
While he’s only 23 it will be Whitelock's sixth test against South Africa and for him the reality of playing the 'Boks lives up to the dream.
“It's everything you would imagine, they are big and physical. The ‘old foe’ I think sums it up nicely,” says Whitelock.
“They've always been the benchmark right from the early days when my father was getting out the cavaliers tapes and talking about how they were the team to beat to playing against them, it's pretty much a dream come true, at my home ground as well,” says Andrew Hore.
And it’s a home ground that's a full house with all of the 29,000 tickets sold.
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