Expect our boys to make history and a big impact when the All Blacks take on Italy in a crunch match in Lyon on Saturday morning (NZT).
Six current and recently departed Crusaders were named by All Blacks coach Ian Foster on Thursday, with Samuel Whitelock set to make history when he runs off the bench. With minutes on Saturday, he’ll become the most-capped All Black of all time with 149 caps, surpassing fellow Crusaders legend Richie McCaw who earned 148 caps before retiring in 2015.
It’s unlikely anyone in the current era will take Whitelock’s place at the top.
Whitelock, 34, finished with the Crusaders at the end of the 2023 season. He debuted for the Crusaders in 2010.
He’s been part of seven championship-winning campaigns, captained the side on many occasions, and stands in the Crusaders watchtower as a mighty leader. He may have left the Crusaders playing squad, but his wisdom and guidance will emanate from Christchurch’s Rugby Park for generations to come.
He debuted for the All Blacks in 2010 versus Ireland, who the All Blacks could very well face in an important match in a few weeks’ time at the Stade de France in Paris.
Foster said at this stage Whitelock was “achieving something new in every game”.
“He equalled a record last week and will beat it this week. He’s got 150 (caps) coming up and then he’s got the most capped All Blacks in World Cups. Every day is a statement of something he’s achieving,” Foster said.
He’s made nine changes to the squad that faced Namibia two weeks ago.
Codie Taylor moves into the front row and Scott Barrett takes the No. 5 jersey. Both will return to Christchurch for the ’24 Super Rugby Pacific season with the Crusaders.
Our boy Richie Mo’unga, who had his last Crusaders season this year, returns to first-five, while Will Jordan – signed with the Crusaders until ’27 – takes up the right wing.
Tamaiti Williams will be perched on the bench ready to take his place in the front row when he’s needed. It’ll be his debut at this particular international tournament.
The All Blacks take on Italy on Saturday 30 September at 8am (NZT), 9pm local time in Lyon. You can watch it on Sky Sport.
It’s a must-win fixture for the boys in black. Let’s go.